Super Rugby Pacific: All Blacks utility David Havili back to midfield, as Crusaders welcome Fergus Burke back from injury

The David Havili-first-five experiment appears over at the Crusaders, who will hand the No.10 jersey to a fifth hopeful candidate against ACT Brumbies.

Fergus Burke - probably the franchise's most experienced first-five, groomed as Richie Mo'unga's understudy in the position - will finally make his season debut on Saturday, after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered last year.

His return will see Havili shift back to the midfield, despite calls from new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson to play him at the pivot, where he has some utility value for the national team.

David Havili and Fergus Burke.
David Havili and Fergus Burke. Photo credit: Photosport

"Davy's done a great job and we're really pleased with what he's done," said Crusaders coach Rob Penney. "We've had another couple of injuries in the midfield, so we've had to rejig it.

"Ferg's back on stream and has trained fantastically well for the last month or so, after getting a little niggly calf on the back of the Achilles repair late last year. We feel as though that's our strongest option now.

"Dave's a world class 12, and we've got a very capable and driven player coming in at 10, wanting to contribute, and we're excited about that."

Havili's move to first-five enabled All Blacks aspirants Dallas McLeod and Levi Aumua to play their specialist positions in the midfield, but both were forced off the field early in defeat to the Highlanders last week.

Havili will partner Jone Rova in the centre against the Brumbies.

During a horror season that has seen the defending champions plummet to nine losses - the most in franchise history - yet still cling to playoff hopes, Penney hopes Burke's addition will spark something in his deflated players.

"If you could come to the reviews, we would desperately like the group to chance their arm a little more," he insisted. "We're creating so much opportunity, and for one reason or another, we're just not completing as well as we would like.

"We're working on it assiduously every training run, we're layering up a little bit more depth on occasions without overly complicating and our reviews indicate there are lots of opportunities we are just not taking."

The Crusaders sit just three points behind eight-placed Fijian Drua with three games remaining and incredibly still have a shot at making the quarter-finals.

Join Newshub at 4:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Crusaders v Brumbies Super Rugby Pacific clash