If the Blues are strong, New Zealand rugby is strong. That's the sentiment from Crusaders assistant coach Scott Hansen.
In a top of the table clash this Saturday, the Crusaders host the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa in Christchurch, a match which will give many older fans flashbacks to the glory days of the Auckland-Canterbury rivalry.
Both sides are unbeaten after three games, and with no finals to take place, Saturday could go a long way towards deciding which team will lift the trophy later this year.
While the Blues' continued resurgence under Leon MacDonald may not be pleasing in Canterbury circles, Crusaders' assistant Hansen says that he's pleased to see the Auckland club returning to the peak of Super Rugby.
Including the end of the last iteration of Super Rugby before the Covid-19 shutdown, the Blues have won seven straight matches.
The Crusaders were the last team to beat the Blues, winning 25-8 at Eden Park in February.
Speaking to media in the build-up to Saturday, Hansen says that a successful Blues side can only be considered a good thing in Kiwi circles.
"It's good for New Zealand rugby," Hansen said.
"You've got teams that are competing, you've got players that are playing at the top level, it's awesome for New Zealand rugby.
"It's going to be a hell of a collision this weekend around mindset and intensity.
"There's two teams that are undefeated going for it."
Hansen adding that the three-time defending Super Rugby champions won't take the Blues lightly.
"There's a huge amount of respect for the Blues."
"They're a team with a lot of cohesion at the moment, awesome synergy in their game with their attack and their defence.
"[They're] a big physical team, it's going to be a massive challenge for us in the weekend."