Super Rugby: Crusaders set for emotional return against Waratahs

The Crusaders say they will be playing for the whole of grief-stricken Christchurch when Super Rugby's reigning champions make their first appearance since last week's terrorist attacks in New Zealand.

They face the Waratahs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday night and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson is expecting plenty of emotion out on the field.

"Our big focus is togetherness. We're in this all together," said Robertson.

"A lot's happened, so we've been through a bit of a process in our group, understanding our feelings and then focused on us making a good statement of what we are as people on Saturday night and perform for our people."   

The Crusaders joined fellow New Zealanders in observing two minutes of silence and poignantly linked arms with teammates in a huddle after their captain's run at Sydney's Scots College on Friday.   

"It has been a very difficult last week or so, and our thoughts are obviously with the people in Christchurch and, in particular, the Muslim community,' said vice-captain Matt Todd.   

"So we're just trying to get out there and put in a performance that does our community justice."   

Todd recalled exactly where he was when he learned of the deadly shootings on two mosques last Friday that ultimately claimed the lives of 50 people and injured many others.   

"We were actually at the airport. We were getting ready to travel down to Dunedin," he said.   

"We didn't really know when we left quite what was happening, so it was a little bit tough.   

"Then by the time, we arrived at Dunedin we had more info on what had happened.  

"It's tough to leave your city when it's happening in it."   

Todd was also unsure exactly what to expect from the Crusaders against the Waratahs.   

"Everyone reacts differently," he said.   

"People show different emotions and what not, but hopefully tomorrow night everyone will have their heads where they need to be and be able to perform.

"It feels like that. It feels like we've trained well and travelled well."

Chasing a record-extending 20th straight Super Rugby win, the Crusaders are treating the Waratahs with respect, especially after having had to come back from 29-0 down to topple them in a pulsating contest last year in Christchurch.   

"They're a very dangerous team," Todd said.   

"They've got attacking weapons across the park. Their backline is loaded with strike players, and they have got ball-playing forwards.

"We want to control possession as much as we can."   

Crusaders: 1-George Bower, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Owen Franks, 4-Quinten Strange, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Jordan Taufua, 7-Matt Todd, 8-Whetu Douglas, 9-Bryn Hall, 10-Brett Cameron, 11-George Bridge, 12-Ryan Crotty, 13-Jack Goodhue, 14-Braydon Ennor, 15-David Havili

Reserves: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-Harry Allan, 18-Micahel Alaalatoa, 19-Luke Romano, 20-Tom Sanders, 21-Ereatara Enari, 22-Mitchell Hunt, 23-Will Jordan  


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