Mauger slams Melbourne move

Crusader centre Aaron Mauger has criticised the prospect of his side playing home Vodacom Super 14 matches in Melbourne.

The Crusaders are playing the Sharks in Timaru on Saturday night, because the Black caps are playing the West Indies in a ODI at Jade Stadium.

The Crusaders played a pre-season match against the Western Force at Melbourne’s Olympic Park and drew 11 500 people. This has led to speculation that Crusaders’ Super 14 matches could also be moved to Australia when there’s a clash.

“I think it would be wrong to take it away from our own provinces and our own Crusaders’ region,” Mauger told The Press. “These are the people that support us and if it’s purely for a financial reason, then there’s no way we should do it.”

The franchise would expect to make more money for matches played in Melbourne than those in smaller centres such as Timaru and Nelson, benefiting the seven unions which it represents.

However, the financial side is of little concern to Mauger, who says money should not be put ahead of the loyal fans from the smaller provinces in the Crusaders’ catchment.

“The people are the ones who make us who we are, and help us be who we are,” he said. “They play a big part of what the Crusaders are all about and I think it would be a shame if we took it away from our own supporters in New Zealand.

“It’s always good going to smaller regions because there’s always lots of enthusiasm around. We’ve always been well received in Nelson when we’ve gone up there and I’m sure Timaru will be no different and looking forward to having us down there.”