Doubts over Crusaders’ Fiji match

Date published: December 17 2014

The Crusaders’ hopes of playing a Super Rugby match in Fiji hinges on a meeting between the players and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association this week.

The match between the Crusaders and Hurricanes is scheduled to be played in Suva’s National Stadium on May 29 as their home ground, the AMI Stadium, will be used for FIFA’s U20 World Cup in May and June.

But although broadcaster Sky are understood to be keen to screen the match, New Zealand Rugby Players Association boss Rob Nichol revealed that several issues must be addressed before the game will be able to take place.

“We go into this with an open mind but from our perspective we would have to say we are little bit concerned,” Nichol told Fairfax Media.

“You need to look at things like season structure, managing workload, the whole year in that context and another week away from home.

“We respect why the Crusaders and Hurricanes would want to support this game at board level but at the same time it is very important that we sit down and listen to the views of the players.”

The Christchurch-based franchise’s administrators are hoping the presence of their Fijian utility back Nemani Nadolo will help draw a huge crowd and support for their team.

But the Crusaders’ All Blacks players may prefer if the match was played in New Zealand as they could be in the United Kingdom for nearly two months later in 2015 for the World Cup.

Nichol also said there were concerns about the playing surface of Suva’s National Stadium.

“That can be addressed,” he added.

“If the ground isn’t up to it, the Crusaders are going to be the last people to want to play the game from an administrative perspective.”

Nichol also feels that the timing of the match must be considered.

“I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to work out the challenges of taking a game offshore with three games to go (before the play-offs) – the risk aspect associated with what will be a crunch-time of the season,” he said.

“From a players’ perspective they are acutely aware of that and, I suppose, from our perspective we are fortunate that a lot of the players are senior, very experienced, have been in those situations before and are thinking ahead.”