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Crusaders expect Blues to be fired up

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Monday, May 14, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Assistant coach Ronan O'Gara said the Blues had shown against the Hurricanes last weekend what they were capable of doing and it was going to be a tough assignment going to Eden Park which he described as 'a fantastic ground to play rugby on'.

The Blues were under pressure because they didn't get what they wanted out of the Hurricanes game and while his focus was on ensuring the Crusaders backs were able to get onto the park to play to the best of their ability he was mindful of the attacking threat the Blues posed.

Sonny Bill Williams had made an impact on his return and O'Gara said there were 'certain things certain players could do', just as Israel Folau had done for the Waratahs against the Crusaders a week earlier.

You could cover them to a point but when players had their athletic ability, and that was something the Crusaders didn't lack, it was a case of your collective abilities working to outclass their individual brilliance, he said.

They were quality players that people turned out to watch.

O'Gara said All Blacks captain Kieran Read's practicing with the side on Monday was just a step along the road on his return to playing and there was no clear idea of when he would be available for selection.

"It's just a very slow burner at this stage. There's a plan in place but with long term injuries the plan has to be pretty flexible but I think [seeing him at training] it did give all the boys a bit of a lift," he said.

The training session was a walking speed effort but it was important that Read did that with the players because he had been off the scene for a while.

"We just need to make sure we get the building blocks correct because a player as valuable as him to both here [the Crusaders] and New Zealand rugby, what you don't want is that he comes back and he has a setback.

"We're lucky that we've got a brilliant medical team here and they will ensure that no stone will be unturned by the time he takes to the pitch," he said.

Lock Luke Romano had also been involved in training. He was progressing well but his return was still a little way off as well.

In relation to the Joe Moody incident on Kurtley Beale, which resulted in a two-week ban after he was cited, O'Gara said discipline was crucial and players needed to be mindful of that all the time.

"That's the beauty of live sport, you can't press pause. Sometimes we make decisions, all of us as players and humans, that we regret," he said.

"Joe has accepted his punishment so you accept that and you get on with it," he said.