Napier will host the Crusaders’ first ‘home’ game of the season against the Chiefs on March 9.

Hamish Riach, CEO of the Crusaders, said that in an ideal world they would have loved to have played this match in Timaru or Nelson, but the cold hard financial facts pointed to Napier.

“Having lost $700,000 last year, we are extremely conscious of the financial implications of all our decisions this year, and the extra return from playing at McLean Park is significant. We played there last season and had fantastic support and we believe that support will be there again this year,” he said.

While the financial returns were firmly in favour of Napier, it was a hard decision to make to bypass both Timaru and Nelson.

“Both those cities gave us tremendous support last season and while we know there will be disappointment that we are not returning for a match in 2012, we hope our fans in those citiesunderstand the reasons for the decision.”

Riach said that this decision would not have been possible without the support of both the Hurricanes franchise and the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union.

“They stood by us last year in our time of need and they are supporting us again. We are immensely grateful that the Hurricanes have approved the game in their region and that the HBRFU are once again prepared to work hard to put on a spectacular game of Investec Super Rugby.”

Riach is hopeful that with the Crusaders having three players from the Bay - Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford and Ross Kennedy – and the Chiefs having four, along with the proximity of Waikato and the Bay of Plenty to Napier, the “full house” signs will be up come March 9.