Crusaders' coach Scott Robertson may have five championships to his credit, but going into big games like Friday's Super Rugby Pacific semifinal against the Chiefs in Christchurch can still cause some nervousness.

Robertson said while they had been through finals football several times, there were always some 'deep sigh moments' when wondering if anything had been left undone.
Roberson said he went deep in his preparation most weeks, but playoffs weeks tended to be deeper than others.

Last weekend's win over the Reds was physical enough to prepare the Crusaders for a more intense game against another New Zealand side.

"The Chiefs are physical, they're tough, they're great on the counterattack. They showed some moments in their game where they can play some special footy.

"We know from last time when they were down here that they can do it and you've got to be right on. You've got to stay on with them. It's going to be a hell of a game."

Robertson had no concerns over what flanker Tom Christie would offer the side in Ethan Blackadder's absence due to the dislocated shoulder suffered at the weekend. Their battle for the open side flanker's position had been one of the highlights of the Crusaders' season.



"Tom's been exceptional when he's taken his opportunities. We're fortunate to have a lot of depth in our loose forwards. He's experienced being with us for three or four years so he's ready to go," he said.

The side's set-piece would be an asset for the game, and with its growth during the year, it had peaked nicely for the semifinal, he said.

Tighthead prop Oli Jager was part of that. He had been with the side for six years and had done his time. He was a big man and had taken his opportunity when it arrived.

"He's an Irishman who came out here to have a crack as a loose forward, turned into a prop and now he's playing for the Crusaders and on the All Black radar, so it's a special story," Robertson said.

While Robertson and assistant coach Jason Ryan were celebrating their 100th Super Rugby game as coaches, it was a milestone for reflection. At the moment, their main concern was preparing the side for Friday's game, he said.

"We've got a special relationship, we're good mates, we treat our jobs professionally, and we love to build relationships with our players. He sees things I don't see and feels things I don't feel, in regards to the group. He's always chipping away, always in my ear. He covers a lot of my blind spots, and I do that for him as well.

"The relationship is open, we have some tough conversations. We keep each other accountable and [are] good mates too and we walk away and know what we've done is best for the Crusaders. I'm proud of how professional he is and where he's come from to today because it's a real story line," he said.