Planet Rugby

Romano working hard to cement spot

03rd February 2014 05:52

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Crusaders lock Luke Romano standing

Luke Romano: Welcomes competition

Crusaders lock Luke Romano knows he has a fight on his hands to cement his place in the Christchurch-based outfit's starting XV this year.

Despite 16 Test appearances and 46 for the seven-time Super Rugby champions, Romano knows he's regular partnership with senior lock Sam Whitelock is under threat from newcomer Dominic Bird, a giant at 2.06m, who made his Test debut on New Zealand's end-of-year tour in 2013.

But Romano welcomes the competition, saying it will bring out the best in all three.

"You might be an All Black and think your starting spot is guaranteed, but that's not the way here," he told NZ Newswire.

"The coaches pick on performance and, if you're not performing, you're going to be on the bench or in the stand."

Romano's participation in the Rugby Championship was cut short by a groin injury sustained in a Test against Australia in Sydney in August.

He returned to the Test arena when he came off the bench in the All Blacks' 30-22 victory over England at Twickenham in November.

Romano is refreshed and eagerly anticipating the Crusaders' first serious pre-season match, against the Highlanders at Motueka on Friday.

The 27-year-old said the Crusaders had relished their revised pre-competition training programme under coach Todd Blackadder.

The changes had the players concentrating more on rugby skills and developing combinations instead of spending most of their time with weights in the gym.

The Crusaders host the defending champions, the Chiefs, in their Super Rugby opener in Christchurch on February 21.

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1Waratahs1658
2Crusaders1651
3Sharks1650
4Brumbies1645
5Chiefs1644
6Highlanders1642
7Hurricanes1641
8Western Force1640
9Bulls1638
10Blues1637
11Stormers1632
12Lions1631
13Reds1628
14Cheetahs1624
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Australian Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Waratahs1658
2Brumbies1645
3Western Force1640
4Reds1628
5Melbourne Rebels1621
New Zealand Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Crusaders1651
2Chiefs1644
3Highlanders1642
4Hurricanes1641
5Blues1637
South African Conference
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PosTeamPPts
1Sharks1650
2Bulls1638
3Stormers1632
4Lions1631
5Cheetahs1624