All Blacks: Crusaders midfield maestros forge partnership in battle

Two Super Rugby title crusades has Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue in perfect harmony heading into the Rugby Championship opening test against Australia in Sydney.

The two will pair for the first time in an All Blacks test, after Goodhue made his debut in the 13 jersey alongside Sonny Bill Williams against France in June.

Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup test would in most situations, be an intimidating cauldron for a one-test All Black, however Goodhue has attacked every challenge in his short career with the poise of a 10-year veteran.

Two outstanding Super Rugby campaigns with the Crusaders, a mid-week November run with the All Blacks in 2017 and his strong showing against the French, suggest the Whangerei native is primed for a stellar international career.

His Crusaders teammate has been hugely impressed with the rapid development of the 23-year-old.

Speaking from Sydney, Ryan Crotty said Goodhue's rise to an All Black jersey is well deserved.

"His work rate is second to none," Crotty said. "He is one of the hardest working midfielders going around.

"He is also very calm.

"Sometimes I have to check to see if he is actually awake.

"For a young guy, having played alongside him in pretty big moments and not see him flustered, just cool, calm and always on task, that's really impressed me."

All Blacks: Crusaders midfield maestros forge partnership in battle

Goodhue credited Crotty for helping his game develop over the last two seasons they have spent together at the Crusaders.

The former Mount Albert Grammar School first XV standout said Crotty is great to play with.

"He gives me a lot of confidence out there, his communication is amazing," Goodhue said.

"I feel like I am right at home playing alongside Ryan."

The two will face a stern test on Saturday night in the form of Wallabies second-five Kurtley Beale.

The 29-year-old carried the Waratahs to the Super Rugby semi-final, producing his best season since exploding onto the international scene in 2009.

"With Kurtley, you have to limit his space," Crotty said of how the All Blacks plan to stop Beale.

"If he has space he will make you pay.

"Defensively we have to get our alignment right and having men on their feet so we have the ability to bring that line speed and take their time and space way.

"It's not so much an individual thing, but more a system thing for our defence. We have to slow that ruck ball down and get off the line to stop someone as talented as Kurtley is."

And Crotty believes his young midfield partner is more than equipped to help stop the Wallabies key attacking weapon.

The Crusaders midfield defence was impregnable during the final two months of the competition, with both Crotty and Goodhue proving to be just as effective without the ball as with it.

Crotty said the development of his partnership with Goodhue hasn't come by accident.

"Those connections are forged in the heat of battle," Crotty said.

"We have played a lot of rugby together the last two years and we work so hard with each other off the field.

"That builds trust."

All Blacks: Crusaders midfield maestros forge partnership in battle