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Robertson keen for positive Crusaders' start

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Thursday, February 23, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Robertson said the season had come around quickly, especially in the last few weeks with the All Blacks coming back into the squad, the 10s and last week's game with the Hurricanes.

"I'm well aware it's my first game in charge. There's a lot of emotions around the game already with what's happened with the Brumbies and Dan Vickerman and what's happened at home [with the Port Hills fires]," he said.

Slow starts had been an issue for the team in recent seasons but they had addressed that and they felt they were in a good position to deal with that on Saturday.

It was about blending the All Blacks back into the side efficiently. Last year there had been seven players on the long term injury list and this year there were none.

"We had some tough decisions to make on our player roster and the 23 for this week could have been a little bit different, easily different, with the amount of depth we've got," he said.

Robertson said he felt the Crusaders had the best balance around their backline that they had had for some years with Jack Goodhue at centre and Seta Tamanivalu's power on the right wing was exciting.

Goodhue's skill set gave 'huge' value to the side and he was on the radar for the next level up in the game and there was Ryan Crotty who was settled in the All Blacks backline and who provided solidity. With Israel Dagg at the back and George Bridge who scored tries, it was a great balance, he said.

Feeding that backline will be new halfback, and former Blues player, Bryn Hall.

Hall said it had been a breath of fresh air for him transferring from the Blues to the Crusaders and he was enjoying the change.

"We've had an awesome pre-season," he said.

The training had pushed the players to the limits and they were looking forward to getting ready to go.

"The most important thing about coming down here is you only worry about your own job. One thing I have definitely learned down here is that you worry about yourself and if you can sort that out that makes things a lot easier," he said.

Hall said he was enjoying working with first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga who, while still young, had a high level of maturity.

"His knowledge and his experience in the Crusaders franchise has been really helpful for me so we've got the first opportunity together to try and get it right but she's a long season so we're just concentrating on game by game. Hopefully a good result comes Saturday night," he said.

Hall said the atmosphere in Christchurch had been more relaxed, especially with reduced media coverage and expectations of the side.

"There was a lot of pressure on the club last year especially with where they were at the start of the Super Rugby campaign [in 1996] and they were trying to get back there. I guess there's a different scenario here with the Crusaders where success and excellence is bred down here so that's definitely one thing I've enjoyed coming down here," he said.