Historically, there has always been plenty of niggle between the Hurricanes and Crusaders, or Wellington versus Canterbury, for that matter.

You do not have to look too far back in the archives to find the late Jerry Collins throwing the ball at Richie McCaw's head or Neemia Tialata trying out a WWE choker hold on McCaw. There is just something about these clashes between the capital boys and the team from the Garden City that raises the temperature.

Despite the high stakes in tonight's pivotal Super Rugby clash in Wellington, you are unlikely to see any fisticuffs. The odd handbag, maybe. But these are the defending champs, with nine All Blacks in the starting XV and Cory Jane on the bench, against the visitors with seven All Blacks, one on the bench and three on ice.

The match-ups are fascinating. Crusaders' stand-in captain Matt Todd is up against Ardie Savea. The two No7s will be almost jumping out of their skin, with Todd's last outing the June 10 loss to the Lions and Savea used exclusively as a late impact player in the test series.


Or how about Israel Dagg against the man who would be king, Jordie Barrett? Dagg has played well in the last few weeks, and was the only outside back constant for the All Blacks against the Lions.

Wyatt Crockett wins a rare start and will look to turn the screws on the Hurricanes' tighthead, former All Black Jeff Toomaga-Allen. While Crockett is often under the spotlight for scrum penalties, it is in fact the Hurricanes who are penalised more in this facet.

Lock Sam Lousi has size and physicality and will need to use both against the abrasive Luke Romano. Beauden Barrett versus Richie Mo'unga, who is about to rise to No3 on the national first five rankings.

There was some disquiet about the Crusaders feeling the need to start Kieran Read at No8 after such a sapping three weeks, but Read has played only those three games since April, and will be keen to get back into the fray to forget about Romain Poite and that infamous decision at Eden Park last weekend. He will mark Brad Shields, the glue of the Hurricanes' pack.

Vaea Fifita will bring athleticism and lineout ability to his blindside clash with the dynamic Jordan Taufua.

How about Nehe Milner-Skudder against the potential competition rookie of the year, George Bridge? The former is yet to regain his 2015 form, while the latter has just inked a new deal with the Crusaders.

So there are several individual match-ups which will surely overshadow any push and shove when the packs collide. The Hurricanes have slightly more to play for, because who wants to fly to South Africa and back in the space of a nine days?

Furthermore, they have a proud home record and are desperate to avoid their second defeat in Wellington since May 2016.