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Crusaders set for fast start by Jaguares

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Friday, April 6, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The Argentinians are coming off a bye having beaten the Lions, the same team the Crusaders beat in a tough, bruising encounter in Johannesburg last weekend.

Whitelock said it had been a tough game but the team were prepared for the anticipated strong start by the Jaguares.

"It's always a challenge to go to South Africa at altitude and play really well and obviously a repeat of last year's final so they were pretty keen to go out there and play well as they do every week.

"In saying that the boys have recovered pretty well, we've been keeping ourselves busy but not doing too much and filling the tank up so when we get out there we are ready to go," he said.

It had been a case of being smart and getting off their feet rather than walking the city and seeing the sights. There needed to be a balance of enjoying it but also getting ready to play well.

Whitelock said he appreciated the difference involved in playing the South Americans. It was good personally, and as a team, to play different styles and different ways of playing the game and Sunday's game would be another of those challenges.

"I've played against Argentina a couple of times and every time I've come off I've been pretty sore, pretty beaten up but that's what makes it so enjoyable – the challenge is different no matter who you are playing or where you're playing," he said.

Coach Scott Robertson took note of how the Jaguares had performed in beating the Lions.

They had scored tries off turnover ball and held onto the ball for long periods while playing a direct, simple style with a lot of kicked ball and had made a great start with some impressive physicality and the Lions couldn't quite pull them back.

"That's what we expect from them again. When they are at home they get good starts and when they do that they are a tough team to beat," he said.

Captain Pablo Montera was an extremely talented loose forward for them while Agustin Creevy was a spiritual leader for them and very experienced. Nicolas Sanchez at first five-eighths directed them well around the field.

"They’ve got enough experience to test any team," he said.

The Jaguares were hard at home as the Waratahs and Lions had found out. They enjoyed good support at home and playing the defending champions would ensure plenty of interest in the game with expectations going up.

"It's all built up to be a pretty big game. They've come off a bye, they'd love our scalp and it's another challenge for us just like the Lions last week," he said.

The Crusaders' effort to beat the Lions had impressed him, they had been denied tries by the TMO but had stuck to their plan and found a way to win the game. This after the players had been shattered at halftime, even more than in last year's final at the same Ellis Park venue.

"When the boys came into the changing room it showed just how hard that game was and in the second half we created a lot of opportunities and took the two that we needed," he said.

Robertson said loose forward Jordan Taufua wasn't selected because had been carrying some injuries over the last few months in his ankle and shoulder and it was decided to give him the chance to have two weeks off with the Crusaders having the bye next week.

Prop Wyatt Crockett was showing the effects of his head knock against the Lions. He had passed his first two protocols in the HIA process but developed a headache and wasn't being considered. Donald Brighouse had been flown over as tighthead cover while Chris King could cover both propping positions.

In terms of the wing position Seta Tamanivalu had made way for Manasa Mataele to have a start on the wing with Braydon Ennor on the reserves bench.