All Blacks teammates wage Super Rugby war of words

While they may have been teammates during the just-completed All Blacks camp, rival Hurricanes and Crusaders players have been staring each other down across the dining hall.

The Super Rugby superpowers are scheduled for a table-topping clash on Friday night at Christchurch's AMI Stadium, so there's been a fair bit of needle between the two factions this week in Auckland.

"To be honest, it's been a great couple of days and it's been the same for both teams," offers All Blacks and Hurricanes first-five Beauden Barrett.

"We'll get our noses back in the Hurricanes books tonight at some point and focus on what's to come."

But Barrett hints at a little extra security around those playbooks with Crusader counterparts lurking nearby.

"Apart from me, all the Hurricanes boys are rooming with Crusaders," he says. "Luckily, I'm rooming with Damian [McKenzie], so there's no awkwardness about Friday night.

"I'm not too sure if there's been any snooping around."

Even in the All Blacks environment, the Super Rugby rivals like to keep pretty much to themselves.

"The Crusaders like to hang out together, so it's all about breaking them up," says Barrett. "I was doing my best to get in amongst them at dinner last night

"I had a good dinner with 'Owie' Franks, my brother Scooter [Scott Barrett] and Ryan Crotty. They're a tight group."

Crusaders counterpart Richie Mo'unga confirms the feeling between the camps within the camp.

"It has its challenges, but in this environment, we're in the same team at this stage - until we leave the premises," he says. "There's slight banter that's going around, which is always fun and healthy, but for now, we're All Blacks and good teammates

"The banter is going good and it's hard to keep up with those Canes boys. Some of the banter is a bit better than others and theirs is right up there."

So are the champion Crusaders winning the war of words so far?

"Yeah, just quietly," he grins.

Franks is one Crusader who has attracted an unwanted share of attention this week, after his high hit on Blues skipper James Parsons last Friday and a subsequent two-game suspension that will keep him out of Friday's showdown.

"I haven't seen him," insisted Mo'unga. "He's up about 5.30am, eating his steak for brekky, so I actually haven't seen him today.

"He doesn't express too much or show too much emotion, so it's hard to tell if he's happy or sad.

"We had a gym session, so he probably let out some of his frustration."

The Crusaders currently top the Super Rugby table with 10 wins from 12 outings, with the Hurricanes (10-1) lurking just one point adrift with a game in hand.

But the All Blacks camp may have left the southerners somewhat short-handed in the front row. With Franks and Joe Moody already serving suspensions, Tim Perry suffered a hamstring injury that also has him in doubt for the derby.


Join us at 7:30pm Friday for live updates of the Crusaders vs Hurricanes Super Rugby derby.

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