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Why Fergus Burke could be the Crusaders' 'solution at fullback'

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Defending Super Rugby Pacific champions the Crusaders were dealt a cruel blow last weekend, with David Havili having been replaced inside the opening 10 minutes with an injury.


With a grimace on his face, Havili walked off the field at Churchill Park holding his wrist in just the ninth minute.

The All Blacks star joins fellow internationals Will Jordan and Jack Goodhue on the sidelines, which may lead to a selection headache ahead of the Crusaders’ round four blockbuster against the Blues.

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After making eight changes to their starting XV to take on the Drua in Fiji, the Crusaders are expected to welcome back some key talent for their trip to Auckland.

But the Crusaders’ injury crisis still raises some questions.

Former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall believes the Crusaders’ depth is “looking a little short” in their outside backs, and has weighed in on who should start at fullback.

“They’ve got to try and find a solution at fullback,” Marshall told SENZ’s In the Red.


“Chay Fihaki only got his first game at the weekend and he looked a little bit underdone (and) you can’t have an underdone player going into a game, a massive game like this, at Eden Park.

“I don’t think you can throw a youngster like Macca Springer in there so all of a sudden in an area where they had massive depth in the outside backs, the Crusaders are looking a little short.

“I don’t know what the answer to that is, apart from possibly playing Fergus Burke there.”

The Crusaders named a new-look side for their trip to Fiji, which ultimately ended up costing them as they lost a thriller 25-24.


Playmaker Richie Mo’unga didn’t play against the Drua, and neither did halves partner Mitchell Drummond.

Should Mo’unga return to the starting side this weekend, Marshall believes Burke should start in the No. 15 jumper.


“You’ve got that dual playmaker role, he’s a good defender, as is Richie Mo’unga so if they want to swap them around they can and put Mo’unga at 15 on defence,” he added.

“That’s where I’d go, so that’s a weird backline.

“We’re looking at… I’d go (Mitchell) Drummond, I would go for Mo’unga, I’d go for (Braydon) Ennor, (Leicester) Fainga’anuku, wing is Sevu Reece, fullback is Fergus Burke and then the other wing has kind of got me a little bit perplexed. Probably Fihake on the wing.”

The Crusaders began their season with a disastrous 31-10 loss at home against New Zealand rivals the Chiefs.

While they were able to get their season back on track with a emphatic win over the Highlanders in Super Round, the loss to the Drua has come as a shock to many.

The defending Super Rugby champions now risk falling to a 1-3 record if they can’t get it right against the Blues on Saturday.


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