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Crusaders the Waratahs' benchmark

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'You always want to face the good teams early, it gives you that benchmark.'

Facing the formidable three-time defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders first up might seem a scary prospect, but it’s a challenge NSW Waratahs prop Tom Robertson welcomes.

On paper Saturday’s match could hardly be a tougher start to the season for the unfancied new-look Tahs, though they are playing in Nelson, rather than the Crusaders’ Christchurch fortress.

“You always want to face the good teams early, it gives you that benchmark,” Robertson said.

“The Crusaders over the years, we’ve been pretty good rivals. We beat them in (the) 2014 final, we beat them last year so it’s always a good game.

“You want to play the best teams early and maybe get a slightly easier run in to the finals, but you’ve got to face them at some time during the year.

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“They might rest some of the (All Blacks) guys but we don’t know that, so we’re just preparing to play their best 23.”

The Wallabies front-rower likes the tempo of games against the New Zealand South Island teams.

“No-one likes to see the game slowed down and a lot of scrums and lineouts and mauls and stuff like that and a lot of stoppages,”Robertson said.

“But against the Highlanders and the Crusaders in particular, it’s always throwing it around quick lineouts in and out, which is what I love.”

The Crusaders are renowned for punishing errors and Robertson stressed the importance of the Tahs pack executing their set pieces.

“The Crusaders are a detail-oriented team so they are very structured, they know what they are doing,” Robertson said.

“We’ve got to match that as well so you’ve got to know your role and not miss anything because if there’s one weakness, scrum time or in the lineout, they will take advantage of that.”

Robertson is hoping for better luck with his fitness after a 2019 campaign in which he suffered knee, ankle and calf injuries and missed out on World Cup selection.

– AAP

Crusaders assistant Andrew Goodman faced the media ahead of the opening round of Super Rugby:

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'You always want to face the good teams early, it gives you that benchmark.'
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