Scott Robertson, wisely, isn't getting ahead of himself.

The Crusaders coach, who has begun his Super Rugby career with eight victories from eight, is overseeing a squad playing with intensity and accuracy every week, and should be favourites to maintain their unbeaten record in South Africa, where they play the Cheetahs and Bulls, over the next fortnight.

His team are playing with an enthusiasm which suggests whatever off-field theme the former All Blacks and Crusaders loose forward has come up with in his debut season has been fully bought into.

An indication of that was their attitude in the opening minutes of their match against the Stormers in Christchurch.


The Crusaders hardly saw the ball in the opening 10 minutes of their bonus-point victory but they showed their intent regardless, sprinting into the eye-line of the visiting attack and either shunting them backwards or spooking them into a mistake.

Defence is something Robertson regards as his area of expertise, so it's probably not a surprise the Crusaders have responded there. And when his side did finally win possession, they put five first-half tries past a shellshocked opposition before running out 57-24 winners.

Asked about his winning record after the match at AMI Stadium, Robertson replied: "You know that question is difficult - because I don't want to set myself up.

"But I know that as a group we prepare well each week. The boys care and we love what we are doing. It has been a good run. But we know we are just creating an opportunity for ourselves at the end of the year to do something that hasn't been done for a while."

That the Crusaders haven't won a title since 2008 has been a sore point for them and their supporters who had become used to winning. Robbie Deans was the last coach to do it and now Robertson appears to have found the missing ingredient which should make his team one of the favourites for the title. That enthusiasm has bred competition across the field. No one feels they have their position as of right and everyone is desperate to hold on to their jersey.

First-five Richie Mo'unga, who played the first match of the season and was forced to sit out the next six due to a hand injury, made his return against the Sunwolves a week earlier, but the form of replacement Mitch Hunt meant he wasn't sure of his selection status for the Stormers game. "I knew that when I came back and had my chance I had to nail it," he said. "I was nervous actually and I'm nervous every week because that's the competition we have in the No10 jersey every week.

"And Marty [McKenzie] has been doing an awesome job coming off the bench. It's healthy competition and that's good for the team. You don't just look at the 10 jersey, you look at the locks, at the props and our midfield, how competitive it is there. Our wings are doing an awesome job, too.

"That's what's driving this team, no one's slacking off or taking it easy because you can't."