David Havili’s utility value for the Crusaders will come to the fore – again – in this season’s Super Rugby Pacific opener, with the All Blacks midfielder filling in at fullback when his team needs him.
After a Super Rugby career that’s seen him scattered across the backline for coach Scott Robertson, Havili has found a home in the No.12 jersey in recent years.
Alongside Jack Goodhue and occasionally Braydon Ennor, Havili in midfield has been a key cog of the Crusaders’ six titles in six years, and saw him recalled into the All Blacks in 2021 after starting his career at fullback.
But Will Jordan’s continued absence due to an inner ear issue that’s plagued him since the end of last year has left the Crusaders short at the back and Robertson has called on Havili as his replacement.
The 28-year-old has covered almost every position in the Crusaders’ backline, meaning his coach has no concerns about switching him to start the new season.
“Dave’s a great team man,” said Robertson. “We asked him to go into fullback this week.
“We thought it was really important we get our best team on. He’s a world class 12, been a world class 15, and even played on the wing for the Crusaders at the start.
“We know he can slot in anywhere. We just felt like this was the best team to play the Chiefs.”
Robertson also hailed Havili’s selflessness in switching to fullback, as he looks to impress All Blacks selectors as a No.12.
Midfield is one of the most competitive selection choices for All Blacks coach Ian Foster this year, and Havili’s switch gives players like Jordie Barrett of the Hurricanes, Anton Lienert-Brown of the Chiefs and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Blues the chance to push for higher honours.
But putting the team’s needs above his own, to the gratitude of his coach.
“It was a good conversation,” Robertson continued. “But in the end he knew it was the best thing for the team.
“He can slot back there so easily. That’s just a reflection of him as a player, the quality of skill set and experience that he’s got.”
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