Man in the middle ... Waratahs star Will Skelton. Photo: AAP Image/Paul Miller.
Man in the middle ... Waratahs star Will Skelton. Photo: AAP Image/Paul Miller. PAUL MILLER

Crusaders won’t get down and dirty with Waratahs

THE Crusaders are hell-bent on getting revenge against the Waratahs in Christchurch tonight, but they will not resort to dirty tactics to do it.

The Tahs were accused of doing just that a year ago when they beat the Canterbury outfit 32-22 in Sydney.

Giant Wallabies second-rower Will Skelton made headlines with a physically intimidating display, which also featured several off-the-ball incidents.

The Kiwi-born forward copped a two-week ban for a lifting tackle on his opposite number, All Blacks star Sam Whitelock.

Tahs hooker Tolu Latu was suspended for four weeks for his role in the same tackle.

While the Crusaders copped some criticism for not standing up to Skelton and the Waratahs pack, assistant coach Dave Hewett said if his players occupied their minds too much with getting retribution it would distract them from the major task at hand - winning the match.

"If you start stepping into the realm of dishing out your own justice then you run the risk of going to the sideline yourself," he said.

"It's a case of not backing down, but also keeping your head. You bring physicality through the rules of the game, not through cheap shots or things like that."

Hewett says his team's focus this week had instead been on last week's 34-26 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The result ended an eight-game winning streak, which left the Crusaders on top of the overall standings but under pressure from three other New Zealand teams. The Australian conference-leading Waratahs are seven points back after winning their past four games.

They have lost exciting playmaker Kurtley Beale to a season-ending knee injury but remain a strong attacking team, with outside centre Israel Folau a constant danger, according to Hewett.

"The Highlanders gave us a good insight into what we need to do," he said.

"If you miss someone like (Israel) Folau, they can create all sorts of problems."