VIDEO: Crusaders' friend now a foe
SUPER rugby spotlight: John Tabaiwalu Fakavale Matson is a familiar face in Christchurch. However, this week the 'welcome' might not be so friendly.
The defending-champion Crusaders host the Chiefs in what will be a spicy all-New Zealand derby - the second round of the 2018 season.
Matson, who played 58 times for Canterbury and 25 times for Crusaders, was also the Canterbury head coach (2012) and Crusaders assistant coach (2013 to 2016), before a stint with Bath in the English Premiership.
He is part of the new era at the Chiefs - an assistant to new head coach Colin Cooper - who has been appointed as head coach of the Super Rugby team on a three-year term, succeeding Dave Rennie, who departed at the end of the 2017 season to coach in
Cooper has brought in some new assistants - Matson, Neil Barnes, Andrew Strawbridge and Carl Hoeft.
Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar, speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's season-opener in Christchurch, said they are a "massive challenge".
"The Chiefs and Crusaders have had some massive battles over the last few years," Mooar said.
"[They are] big derby games that both teams get up for - very physical battles."
However, it is when he starts speaking about the new coaches that he reveals much about what they expect.
"Colin Cooper is a very experienced coach and he brought in Tabai Matson, who is a really good 'friend' of ours," Mooar said.
"He has his first game back in Super Rugby for a couple of years and it happens to be in Christchurch.
"Colin Cooper does bring a really calm demeanour and confidence. There is also huge experience - there is not much that has gone on, on the rugby field that he hasn't seen."
He said the game will be a great occasion in a number of aspects.
"We do respect what the Chiefs can bring," the Crusaders assistant said, adding: "They are still playing a really exciting, expansive game.
"Their counter-attack is really dangerous and that is in their DNA.
"Damian [McKenzie] is really dangerous from broken play and he is always going to be.
"They have some very good and exciting players. [And their] forward pack is as tough as teak ."