Bryn Hall putting old Blues friendships aside to prove he should start for the Crusaders

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NZN

Halfback Bryn Hall is looking forward to coming up against a host of familiar faces when the Crusaders tackle the Blues in Christchurch tonight.

Hall played a key role last week as the Crusaders maintained their unbeaten start to the season, scoring twice in the final 17 minutes as they hauled back a 7-20 deficit to beat the Reds 22-20.

After Mitchell Drummond started at halfback in a successful return from injury last week, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has opted for a straight swap tonight, with Hall getting the nod to face his former teammates.

"Mitchy [Drummond] and I are in a bit of a competition at the moment [for the starting spot] and it's bringing out the best in us," Hall said

"It'll be different. Obviously I spent a bit of time up there and grew up in the region.

"The traditional Blues-Crusaders rivalry is always a big challenge and hopefully I can put in a good performance."

Despite the rivalry between the teams, Hall said he hasn't received too much banter from his former teammates.

"James Parsons has been the only one.

"We were pretty close back up in Auckland and I had a few calls earlier in the week but being close to game time now we've shut up shop."

The Crusaders will be without a host of experience in the back line following injuries to Seta Tamanivalu, Digby Ioane and Israel Dagg last week.

Hall said despite Dagg's knee injury, which will keep him out of Super Rugby for six weeks, the All Blacks fullback had helped out a lot this week.

"He is world class," Hall said.

"He has been there for a long time and he's good for the younger players.

"He helps us on and off the field, so he's been in and around the camp doing what he can analysis-wise and constantly talking."

One of the young players benefiting is Manasa Mataele, who will make his debut on the right wing in Ioane's place as the former Wallaby recovers from a finger injury.

Robertson is excited about what Mataele will bring to the contest.

"Manasa is explosive," he said.

"He's a young Fijian boy. He's exciting and has some express wheels, and really good game awareness."

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