The Crusaders have been urged to ditch any thoughts of unlawful retribution when they face the abrasive Will Skelton and his Waratahs in Christchurch on Friday.
The match falls almost a year to the day after the Waratahs won a combustible clash 32-22 in Sydney to virtually end the Crusaders’ 2015 Super Rugby play-off hopes.
Mammoth Wallabies lock Skelton hogged the headlines with a physically intimidating display which also featured several off-the-ball episodes.
The Kiwi-born forward later copped a two-week ban for one incident – a lifting tackle on All Blacks opposite Sam Whitelock – while Tahs hooker Tolu Latu was suspended for four weeks for his role in the same tackle.
The Crusaders were criticised in some quarters for not standing up to Skelton and the Waratahs pack.
Assistant coach Dave Hewett says there will be no change of attitude from his players if the game descends in similar fashion and they will rely primarily on South African referee Jaco Peyper and his assistants to monitor transgressions.
“If you start stepping into the realm of dishing out your own justice then you run the risk of going to the sideline yourself,” he said.
“It’s a case of not backing down, but also keeping your head. You bring physicality through the rules of the game, not through cheap shots or things like that.”
Hewett says his team’s focus this week has instead been on last week’s 34-26 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The result ended an eight-game winning streak which still leaves the Crusaders atop the overall standings but under pressure from three other Kiwi teams.
The Australian conference-leading Waratahs are just seven points back, having won their last four games.
They have lost exciting back Kurtley Beale to a season-ending knee injury but remain a potent attacking force, Hewett says.
Basic missed tackles were pinpointed as a fault against the Highlanders rather than a systematic defensive problem.
It is something they will need to rectify against the Waratahs, who want to end a 12-year drought in Christchurch.
“The Highlanders gave us a good insight into what we need to do,” Hewett said.
“If you miss someone like (Israel) Folau, they can create all sorts of problems.”
The match will be the 150th for Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis, who announced on Monday that this is his last season of Super Rugby.