Preview: Crusaders vs Fijian Drua

Preview: Crusaders vs Fijian Drua

Fijian Drua will look to test the Canterbury Crusaders' physical limits when they take on the injury-hit champions in their Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final on Saturday, coach Mick Byrne said.

The Crusaders enter the playoffs with a slew of All Blacks among nine players ruled out for the rest of the campaign.


They were beaten 27-26 by the Hurricanes in Wellington last weekend but return to their Christchurch fortress in their push for a seventh championship trophy in seven years.


After hammering the Queensland Reds 41-17 to reach the finals for the first time in only their second season, Byrne said his buoyant Drua players had been "flying into each other" at training.

"We don’t have to manufacture physicality," he told Reuters from Fiji on Wednesday.


"We’re not dismissing anything the Crusaders bring tactically or technically, we just feel the best way that we can go into this game is playing our best rugby.


"If we do that we’ll be competitive and we’ll be physical.


"That’s what it’s going to take to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch, you’ve got to be physical. That's our clear focus this week."


There were joyous scenes in Suva as the Drua thrashed the Reds for their sixth win of the season, four more than their maiden campaign in 2022.


It came after a tough week for the 64-year-old coach, who was mourning the death of his father.

Drua captain Meli Derenalagi dedicated the win to Byrne, who was a champion Australian Rules footballer in the 1970s and '80s before becoming one of the world's most sought-after skills coaches in rugby.


Having been skills coach through the All Blacks' back-to-back World Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2015, and held similar roles with Scotland and Australia, the Drua job is Byrne's first as a head coach of a professional rugby team.

Full preview via Reuters


Crusaders Team


  1. Tamaiti Williams
  2. Codie Taylor (VC) 
  3. Oliver Jager 
  4. Scott Barrett 
  5. Quinten Strange 
  6. Sione Havili Talitui 
  7. Tom Christie 
  8. Christian Lio-Willie 
  9. Mitchell Drummond 
  10. Richie Mo’unga 
  11. Leicester Fainga’anuku 
  12. Jack Goodhue 
  13. Braydon Ennor 
  14. Dallas McLeod 
  15. Will Jordan

  16. Brodie McAlister 
  17. Kershawl Sykes-Martin 
  18. Reuben O’Neill 
  19. Zach Gallagher 
  20. Ethan Blackadder 
  21. Willi Heinz 
  22. Fergus Burke 
  23. Chay Fihaki 

Fijian Drua team

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