The Crusaders will head into tomorrow's Super Rugby final against the Lions as big favourites.

By this point, we're all very much aware of how good the Crusaders are. Barring a freak accident or a miracle, they should take care of business tomorrow as well.

But can they beat a team made up of the rest of the All Blacks?

To discuss this completely made up Crusaders v Rest of the All Blacks encounter, we've gathered Herald sports writers Chris Rattue, Christopher Reive, Gregor Paul and Patrick McKendry.



Man for man, the Rest of the All Blacks would win it with ease because their backline is far too good.

The Crusaders have a test-class pack but a second rate backline: Rieko Ioane v George Bridge and co., Aaron Smith v Bryn Hall, Beauden Barrett v Richie Mo'unga, Ben Smith v David Havili...throw in Damian McKenzie, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Waisake Naholo etc etc and you have a runaway victory for the Rest.

The Crusaders have long been at the heart of All Black success – their professionalism and attitude is second to none. They are a tight-five production centre.

But Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Liam Squire and Ardie Savea are a great starting point for the opposition pack.

Throw in some lead up games, a few Steve Hansen-type camps, and the Rest are best.

Pick: Rest of the All Blacks


Rugby's equivalent to USA Basketball's greatest game never seen in 1992, this hypothetical encounter would have the potential to raise a hefty starter fund for a new stadium in Christchurch. And the Cantabrian supporters would go home happy after watching their Crusaders tip over the rest of the country's best talent.

It's hard to bet against "the Rolls Royce" forward pack and the form No 10 in the country right now. It's fun to look at how the sides match up in the backline – Mo'unga v Barrett, Goodhue and Crotty v Williams and Lienert-Brown, Tamanivalu and Bridge v Ioane and Naholo, and Dagg v Smith (yes, I'm selecting Dagg at the back).

The Crusaders have more than enough firepower to handle this test, and enough depth on the bench to close it out. Crusaders in a tight one for mine.

Reive's Crusaders 23: Dagg, Tamanivalu, Crotty, Goodhue, Tamanivalu, Mo'unga, Hall, Read, Todd, Taufua, Whitelock, Barrett, Franks, Taylor, Moody. Reserves: Funnell, Perry, Alaalatoa, Romano, Samu, Drummond, Hunt, Havili.

Reive's Rest of the All Blacks 23: B. Smith, Naholo, Lienert-Brown, Williams, Ioane, B. Barrett, A. Smith, L. Whitelock, Cane, Squire, Tuipulotu, Retallick, Tuungafasi, Coles, Tu'inukuafe. Reserves: Harris, Toomaga-Allen, Fifita, Frizell, Perenara, McKenzie, Laumape, J. Barrett

Pick: Crusaders


The All Blacks would win and in lieu of giving this any serious thought to form a meaningful argument, they would win because they would still have the superior team. Dane Coles, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett and Ben Smith. Done. The All Blacks win.

Pick: Rest of the All Blacks


The Crusaders because of their strength up front – a virtual All Black pack, with perhaps a fit Dane Coles, Brodie Retallick and Liam Squire the only outsiders who could strengthen it. And then there is the firepower out wide, led by the in-form Richie Mo'unga.

Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue is an All Black pairing in the making and the powerful Seta Tamanivalu is once again proving his worth as an attacking force. They have George Bridge out wide and David Havili at the back.

I could go on… Crusaders for me.

Pick: Crusaders