Crusaders and former All Black half back Andy Ellis has spoken of his respect for his Bulls counterpart Francois Hougaard ahead of their clash this weekend.
The Bulls were expected by many to struggle in replacing local legend Fourie du Preez when he announced he would be playing in Japan but Hougaard has ably filled the gap.
Du Preez was rated as one of the Rugby World's best half backs after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 2007.
Du Preez also played crucial roles for the Bulls in their 2007, 2009 and 2010 semi-final victories over the Crusaders in the Super 14.
Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis has warned that the Crusaders will have to shut down Hougaard and to watch the former winger closely as he has blistering speed.
"Hougaard is . . . explosive and the boys are probably going to have to be right on song around the rucks and stuff," Ellis told Fairfax NZ News.
"Also, he still kicks a lot and their wingers are really good at chasing and good in the air. "
"We will be doing a lot of work on that this week."
Having met the Bulls three times in Super Rugby finals in Pretoria and Soweto in recent years the Crusaders have been encouraged by the opportunity of playing the Bulls in Christchurch this time around.
"It's great they have got to travel over and we get a chance to give them some back," Ellis said.
"I couldn't think of a better team to be playing really. "
"We know they are a big physical pack, they are going to carry hard and you are probably going to get an elbow in the face every now and again but that is just expected in a big game from a big physical team."