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Mitchell Hunt thankful for early chances

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Thursday, March 16, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Hunt said ahead of Friday's game with the Blues in Christchurch that he hadn't expected to get so much game time by this stage of the season and while it was unfortunate for Richie Mo'unga to suffer injury it had provided him with a chance to showcase his abilities.

"It's awesome, the feedback has been pretty good so far, just keep doing what I'm doing and keep building that leadership role around the team as well."

While he had wanted to play more often at first five-eighths for Tasman last year, injury in the side meant he was restricted to playing fullback most of the Mitre 10 Cup season.

"Ten is where I want to be heading, and where I am most comfortable. I'm pretty glad that it has come now and that it is that 10 jersey," he said.

Having landed the match-winning penalty goal to seal last weekend's win over the Reds in Brisbane, he said, his goal-kicking had also taken a bit of a back step at Tasman, but he had continued to work hard at it. He was a back-up kicker to Marty Banks at Tasman.

"The opportunity to be a goal-kicker again has presented itself and I am happy to take that role up," he said.

Hunt said having played under coach Scott Robertson for the New Zealand Under-20 team made his advance easier while Leon MacDonald, with Tasman, had also been involved in his transition to higher levels of play.

He was conscious of the role of first five-eighths for the Crusaders and the hall of famers who have been there before him, but it was a chance for him to add his style to the role and to build from there, he said.

Meanwhile halfback Bryn Hall was expecting a little banter from his old Blues team-mates but was unconcerned and said his concentration was living up to the strong tradition of halfback play in the Crusaders.

Having had four years with the Blues, two of them restricted by injury, it had not been a hard decision to leave, he wanted to get better and the Crusaders with their legacy offered him that chance.

While he had some insiders' knowledge of the Blues, he said the main concentration from the Crusaders was on their own game and what they needed to do.

"They've got some awesome athletes in Auckland, in the pack and in the backs, so I guess for us as a team we've got to take as much time and space out of them and put them in uncomfortable situations and hopefully, come Friday night, we can do that and will help us have a good result," he said.

Captain and lock Sam Whitelock said it was the first time in a long time the Crusaders had won three in a row but two of them they had to come from 'a few points down' so it would be nice to score some points earlier and apply more pressure through the scoreboard as well.

The Blues would be looking to rid themselves of the lost opportunities from last week's game and Whitelock said the Blues lineout, which struggled last week, would be better than that, especially with Jimmy Tupou's knowledge of the Crusaders' systems.