Crusaders look ahead to well-earned bye after strong start to season

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says his team deserves a week off after an impressive start to the Super Rugby season.

The Crusaders - for now - are currently top of the Super Rugby standings, after beating southern rivals the Highlanders 33-13 in Christchurch on Friday night. 

They're 3-1 this season with wins over the Waratahs, Blues and Highlanders, with their lone defeat coming against the unbeaten Chiefs a fortnight ago. 

Last year, the Crusaders had to wait until week 10 of the competition for a bye, but their first comes much earlier this season - and at a good time as well. 

Robertson said the week off will give key players like captain Scott Barrett, who missed the Highlanders win with a knee injury, utility David Havili and first-five Richie Mo'unga (both groin and knee) a chance to overcome their niggles for their next stretch of games. 

All three players are expected to be fully fit for their next match against the Reds. 

"It's a good start, but 4-0 would be better," said Robertson. "Getting those bonus points have been a real focus for us and we're in good spirits, and we're in the hunt. 

"We had nine games in a row last year, we rotated the squad and managed that well.  

"We had a bye before the playoffs which was unique but we treated that as they do in the league where you get to freshen up.

"A bye is a bye, we trust the preparation we've done in the person that we can have a short week for the Reds. 

"Sundays are sacred for families days and we'll come back on the Monday of the Reds week with a plan to keep the momentum." 

While Robertson was happy with the latest win over the Highlanders, he was disappointed they weren't able to score more with points en route to their 33rd straight win at Orangetheory Stadium.

First half tries to Codie Taylor, Tom Christie, Braydon Ennor and George Bridge gave the Crusaders a 26-8 lead at halftime. 

But they only managed to add one more in the second half to Sione Havili. 

"We've left a lot of tries on a few rugby paddocks in the last few weeks," Robertson added.

"I think we had six clean line breaks and never converted any of them. Just little easy options. Sometimes we're going for the big one, or miracle flick, or just catch the ball."

The Crusaders can be overtaken by the Chiefs on the Super Rugby standings if they beat the Brumbies in Hamilton on Saturday night. 

The three-time defending Super Rugby champions are back in action on March 6 at home against the winless Reds.