Scott Robertson knows the upcoming Super Rugby Aotearoa season presents a unique challenge for the Crusaders, a team that has won four straight titles, but he believes his side will be as motivated as ever to be champions yet again.
The charismatic Crusaders coach says a lot of work has been done to ensure no complacency seeps into the team ahead of their opener against the Highlanders on Friday night.
As for himself, Robertson insists the fire is burning as strong as it was before the Crusaders' sensational title streak.
"I suppose looking at the winning side of it, we do talk about how we can evolve our game and how we can keep our people connected; how we can get them inspired and excited to go again. That's my focus," Robertson said.
"We've done a lot of work with the leadership all season, done a lot of work on how we can be better in our game management and dealing with big moments. Those things excite you to get the result.
"Five years in it doesn't feel like that. I'm still young, I've still got my hair and hopefully still got my smile and a bit of humour. I just love coming in and the infectious part carries off to the group."
Aside from the big-picture outlook, Robertson also admitted the Crusaders need to be more disciplined on the field – especially around the offside line – after a not-so convincing pre-season hitout last week, where the team suffered three yellow cards in 80 minutes in the game of three halves clash against the Blues and Chiefs.
"The refs do go extremely hard pre-season in that area and we needed to be better in a couple of those moments. You've just got to be clearly onside otherwise you're offside.
"The boys are queuing up to jump the gun a couple of times; they just want to get up and get physical and we've got to be disciplined around that first and foremost. It's better a week early than a week late."
The Crusaders will face a tricky task in Dunedin against the Highlanders, who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2020 season under their new head coach Tony Brown.
"Browny's smart," said Robertson. "The boys play for him and all our games against the Highlanders in the last five years have been tough. They've come down to a few moments; they've led in all those matches. They're a hell of a battle. We expect nothing less.
"They've got a little bit more depth in their squad and Tony Brown is an astute coach. So we're expecting everything. It's a hell of an opener to go down there under the roof in O-week and full zoo and all those things come into play. We'll prepare accordingly."
Highlanders v Crusaders
Tonight, 7.05pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium
Highlanders: Solomon Alaimalo, Connor Garden-Bachop, Ngane Punivai, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (cc), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Billy Harmon, Shannon Frizell, Jack Regan, Josh Dickson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (cc), Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Josh Hohneck, Jeff Thwaites, Bryn Evans, Liam Squire, Folau Fakatava, Josh Ioane, Hugh Renton.
Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Dallas McLeod, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Samuel Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Brodie McAlister, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Quinten Strange, Sione Havili, Mitchell Drummond, Fergus Burke, Chay Fihaki.