High-speed, physical rugby is what the Crusaders are expecting when they take on the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby Pacific opening game in Dunedin on Saturday.
Both teams would be getting stuck-in, which would be exciting, Crusaders' assistant coach Jason Ryan said.
The champions see the new season as a blank page, he said.
Anything that had happened previously was deemed irrelevant. In the Crusaders' case, that meant looking at five years of competition success as meaning nothing.
Instead, it was all about what the 2022 variation of the Crusaders were going to achieve, he said.
That involves coping with the unusual requirement to undertake a four-hour bus trip from Queenstown to Dunedin ahead of the game.
Ryan said they were looking at ways of ensuring the players were moving around and not sitting too long during the trip. But it was all being done to play rugby, and they understood that.
Ryan said the ability in the side meant there were some difficult choices in selection.
"I think out of all the positions in the forward pack, the locking position is probably the toughest to pick each week, but the boys know that," he said.
Given the Crusaders success and the experience on call for its pack, the pressure is on to break into the group to secure regular playing time.
Ryan said they were preparing for game one, and the experienced players could open the campaign.
"There is always opportunities to give other guys a crack [later]," he said.
All players in the squad would understand the situation. Whether they were in the starting 23 or not, they contributed to the side.
"Those other boys are coming up and going well but we've got no problems picking any of them and the competition is healthy," he said.
While it was reasonable to expect that All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Scott Barrett would lock the first scrum, the pressure in the front row was different.
Heading into their second season with the side, props Tamaiti Williams and Fletcher Newell had benefitted from what Ryan said were 'unbelievable' pre-seasons. With Oli Jager, they were competing for the tighthead position. But, they would play different roles at different times, he said.
"The competition between those three is exciting and I'm looking forward to how that plays out," he said.
Ryan said their use of substitutes could be a little different this year.
"We want to give everyone a crack because we trust all our tightheads and the game allows us to do that. I think the days of giving a tighthead prop 65-70 minutes are gone. You're not trusting your boys if you are doing that," he said.
The competition in the midfield had eased. All Blacks David Havili and Braydon Ennor were likely starters, especially with Jack Goodhue not expected to be available before mid-April.
We've got you covered team— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) February 14, 2022
Check out the link below to see where in the world you can feel the Power of the Pacific! #SuperRugbyPacific