Curwin Bosch could face an aerial bombardment from his opposite number, Israel Dagg. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Curwin Bosch could face an aerial bombardment from his opposite number, Israel Dagg. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Israel Dagg has spent most of this season sidelined through injury. Photo: John Davidson/www.photosport.nz
Israel Dagg has spent most of this season sidelined through injury. Photo: John Davidson/www.photosport.nz
Ryan Crotty is one of the more underated All Blacks in the Crusaders side. Photo: EPA/David Fernandez
Ryan Crotty is one of the more underated All Blacks in the Crusaders side. Photo: EPA/David Fernandez
Andre Esterhuizen has shown his ball-carrying ability this season, but will have to put in a complete performance on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Andre Esterhuizen has shown his ball-carrying ability this season, but will have to put in a complete performance on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Kieran Read has also had an injury interrupted season, but the All Black always makes a telling contribution. Photo: Martin Hunter/www.photosport.nz
Kieran Read has also had an injury interrupted season, but the All Black always makes a telling contribution. Photo: Martin Hunter/www.photosport.nz
Daniel du Preez will want to put his hand up for the vacant Springbok number eight jersey. Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Daniel du Preez will want to put his hand up for the vacant Springbok number eight jersey. Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Sam Whitelock is a towering presence in the Crusaders' pack. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Sam Whitelock is a towering presence in the Crusaders' pack. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Sharks skipper, Ruan Botha, will hope to lead from the front. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Sharks skipper, Ruan Botha, will hope to lead from the front. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Wyatt Crockett is currently in his last season with the Crusaders and will hope to end his career with another title. Photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
Wyatt Crockett is currently in his last season with the Crusaders and will hope to end his career with another title. Photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
What he lacks in experience, Thomas Du Toit makes up for in size and strength. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
What he lacks in experience, Thomas Du Toit makes up for in size and strength. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

DURBAN - The days of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter may be long gone in Christchurch, but it is easy to forget the other talented All Blacks veterans who permeate the current Crusaders crop. When the Sharks run onto the pitch on Saturday (9.35am SA time) they will be trying to make history as the first SA side to knock out a NZ team on enemy soil - and it will be a job for the youngsters.

Curwin Bosch v Israel Dagg

Dagg, once the mainstay of the All Blacks at the back, has had a spate of injuries that kept him off the pitch. But what Dagg has picked up in his time away from the game is a level of maturity and insight for the art of fullback play. The experienced No 15 will test his opposite number’s ability to field the high ball in tricky situations, and his defensive efforts in one-on-one encounters.

Ryan Crotty v André Esterhuizen

Esterhuizen may be playing his best rugby, but he will be tested by the guile and professionalism of one of the most underrated All Blacks playing today. Crotty is as dependable as they come and has a bit of a golden touch. He will be a thorn in the side of Esterhuizen, who is still ironing out his youthful boisterousness.

Kieran Read v Dan du Preez

Read is another who had injury concerns and he may not make this game, but if he does, Du Preez will be up against a connoisseur of the game. Du Preez’s game has also come along nicely and he will have a few more eyes on him for the Bok No 8 shirt with Duane Vermeulen out of the way. But in this match he will need to be smart in his decision-making, especially when marking Read from the base of the scrum. The All Blacks captain, while physical as they come, will not be suckered into a brawl with the barnstorming No 8.

Sam Whitelock v Ruan Botha

Botha has matured with the captain’s armband, but he too is young and has the extra pressure of leading a group of youngsters, whereas Whitelock has been around. He’s an integral part of the Crusaders leadership and it is not only his imposing frame that will be of concern to Botha, but also his presence in the tight-loose.

Wyatt Crockett v Thomas du Toit

They say in scrumming it is about time in the saddle and that is exactly what they said about Du Toit’s move to tighthead - he just needs more time. But for the Crusaders, they have a prop who has played over 200 games for his club alone. Crockett is a fine-tuned diesel engine if ever there was one, and his clash with Du Toit could be worth the admission alone. Both men are tall and powerful but the difference is age and experience, which probably gives Crockett the edge.

The Mercury

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