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NSW Waratahs to face Crusaders side missing Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge, Ethan Blackadder

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Asked why he had chosen the Waratahs as the weekend to rest the four All Blacks, Robertson said: “They’d played five, six games in a row, that’s the balance. And it’s a smaller week so you have to make sure you get your combinations right, so it was basically the run of games and also the combinations.”

But the class and depth of the Crusaders is such that while four All Blacks have gone out, Robertson also recalled a handful of New Zealand internationals, with fullback Will Jordan and centre David Havili returning after a week off, and centre Jack Goodhue named in the starting midfield for the first time since suffering a horrific knee injury last year.

NSW captain Jake Gordon helped the Waratahs stay in the fight against the Chiefs last week.Credit:Getty

Robertson said he would pay “full respect” to the Waratahs with an intense week’s preparation, and said the NSW defence and physicality was much improved from last year.

“They’re a much better defensive side. There’s definitely a bit of grit in their breakdown stuff and they go hard at it. They’re a really physical side, we have seen great improvements so we are expecting a hell of a battle,” Robertson said.

“They will be more combative. They’re a bit more tougher, a bit more brutal in the contact area. They have some good players, a sprinkling of international players who can create a lot. So full respect into our week’s prep.”

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The Waratahs’ loss to the Chiefs came in a game heavily disrupted by cards and injuries, but Robertson said it was clear there was plenty of fight in the NSW squad.

“You can gauge around the contact area and the physicality,” he said.

“Games can get a bit chaotic like that but they were in with a chance weren’t they? There was some variation in the way they defend but yeah, full respect in prep, that’s probably the answer I can give you.”

Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Fergus Burke, Cullen Grace, Tim Christie, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Zach Gallagher, Oli Jager, Codie Taylor (c), George Bower. Reserves: Ricky Jackson, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Dominic Gardiner, Sione Havili Talitui, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Simon Hickey, Dallas McLeod.

Watch every match of the Super Rugby Pacific on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport.



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