1 May 2024

Call from All Blacks coach prompts Crusaders backline reshuffle

4:45 pm on 1 May 2024
David Havili at the 2023 Rugby World Cup

New Crusaders first five David Havili Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz

The Crusaders have now obliged with Havili named in the number 10 jersey for Saturday's Super Rugby Pacific match against the Queensland Reds in Christchurch.

Havili has filled the role occasionally before, when Robertson was coaching the Crusaders, and current coach Rob Penney said they had previously considered using him in there season but the All Black request was the final prompt.

"We've talked about it often as a coaching group but it wasn't until the All Blacks confirmed that they were really interested to see him playing there that there was a shift... to go that way," Penney said.

"They have said if we can fit David in there (at first five) they would be really appreciative," he added.

"I think (the All Blacks) are very excited about having David Havilli in the mix, being able to play 10,12, 13 really effectively and 15 if required - he's such a versatile player - it makes an international bench really exciting.

"There's lots of positives for the New Zealand game, it's also really positive for David and positive for us."

The All Blacks first test of the year is against England in Dunedin on 6 July.

All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson.

All Blacks coach Scott Robertson Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz

Another positive for the Crusaders is that former Wales international Leigh Halfpenny will finally take the field them this weekend making his Super Rugby Pacific debut.

Halfpenny suffered a chest injury in February playing a pre-season game for the Crusaders against Irish club Munster and needed surgery.

He will start at fullback and undertake the kicking duties.

"We can manage his game time and work load more effectively (by starting him) and he's been training the house down for the last six weeks and he's earned the right to slip into that 15 jersey."

Former Wales international Leigh Halfpenny will finally make his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders.

Former Wales international Leigh Halfpenny will finally make his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders. Photo: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency

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