Twenty years ago, when the Crusaders won their first Super Rugby title with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Blues at Eden Park, a young Bryn Hall was watching from the old Panasonic stand alongside his twin brother Blake.

Auckland born and bred, Bryn watched, presumably disappointed, as Todd Blackadder held up the trophy, but, after his move south to Christchurch, the former Blues halfback is now fully indoctrinated into the Crusaders way.

And why not? He showed glimpses of talent while at the Blues but took his game to a new level under Scott Robertson last year and the benefits went both ways. Hall enjoyed his first Super Rugby title as the Crusaders swept all before them and now he and his side are on the brink of another.

Should they beat the Lions at AMI Stadium tomorrow, title number nine will be coming home to their Rugby Park headquarters.


Several weeks ago, around the 20th anniversary of the Crusaders inaugural victory, Robertson invited the class of '98 back into the inner sanctum, including midfielder Mark Mayerhofler who like Hall has a strong affiliation with North Harbour, and for Hall it brought back memories of that afternoon at Eden Park when as six-year-olds he and his brother were cheering for the other team.

"It was a great experience for me," Hall said. "I watched that final at Eden Park and it was special for me to connect with our people - the older boys who started it for us.

"We're very fortunate that we've won a lot of championships but it started with them. To be able to talk to them and hear their stories was a really special night and something I'll always remember."

Richie Mo'unga, Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue might win the bulk of the headlines but Hall and his friend and rival Mitchell Drummond have been a couple of unsung heroes for the Crusaders. Every week they battle for the starting role and the competition has brought out the best in both.

"We're two competitive people," said Hall, who will wear the No9 jersey against the Lions. "During the two years I've been here we've been able to work together. Whether it's me starting or him starting, we get right behind each other.

"That's what it's like to be a Crusaders player. You want what's best for the team – we want to have the best combo in the competition, that's what we've been driving for over the last couple of years and especially this year. Having the best one-two punch at halfback… and I'd like to think that's the case."

Such has been the 26-year-old Northcote player's development in Christchurch he has signed for another year. About a dozen of his friends and family will make the trip south for the game.

"I guess I always knew there was a lot of excellence and high standards here and for me that mindset was refreshing," he said. "The players here – the All Blacks or guys who have been here for a while – they just breathe high standards. The coaching staff have been fantastic and Razor, the way he drives the group, and delivers the team culture, has been special.

"He nails the balance really well," Hall added of the head coach. "He's quite unorthodox and can get the best out of players by talking to people. Some people see him as different but I think it works. He has that great ability to get the best out of a player and that's a special thing. At the same time he has a hard side and you don't want to get on the wrong side of him."