Brent Ward for, now against, Canterbury

DAVID LONG
Last updated 08:46 13/07/2011
Brent Ward
IAIN McGREGOR/The Press
NOW THE ENEMY: Brent Ward will play against some of his red and black mates from the Crusaders when his Auckland side faces Canterbury on Sunday.

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A few days ago Brent Ward was in the Crusaders squad in Brisbane, hoping that the franchise could cap off their remarkable and unique season.

On Sunday when Auckland play Canterbury at Eden Park he'll be doing everything he can to add some more misery to those in Christchurch.

The 32-year-old Ward initially failed to pick up a Super Rugby contract this year, but was called into the Crusaders squad on May 8 to help them out with their injury crisis and stayed with them for the rest of the campaign.

He returned back to his province yesterday and is relishing the prospect that on Sunday he'll be going up against players he recently called team-mates.

He does though, still feel gutted that the Crusaders weren't able to beat the Reds in Saturday night's final.

''It was hugely disappointing,'' he said.

''We thought we were going to go on from the win in the semifinal and take it away.

''It would have been a great story, not just for the team, but for everyone in Christchurch or had been involved with what's happened down there.

''It would have been great for the Crusaders to have been able to do something positive for the region, but it was just one of those things and they're all still proud of what they achieved.''

Ward previously played for the Crusaders in 2007, making four appearances for them and although it was a fleeting reunion for him, playing five games, he loved being back with team again.

''I loved it, it was great being back in that environment, it gave me a spark and new lease on life,'' he said.

''I really enjoyed my time down there, they're a great bunch of people and it's really easy to fit in.''

Because of the gruelling and longer Super Rugby season it's unknown which Blues and Crusaders players will be running out for the provinces this weekend.

Joe Rokocoko is highly unlikely to play for Auckland, deciding to have a few days off this week. Ward is keen to play, but isn't sure what his form will be like.

''It's hard to say. I did get to play for the Crusaders but I haven't played for the last three weeks,'' he said.

''So it's going to be a case of trying to get that game fitness back for the first couple of weeks. That might be tough, but I'll battle through that and see how it goes.''

There are no other experienced fullbacks in the Auckland squad, with the young Chay Raui wearing the No 15 jersey for the pre-season games against Waikato and Northland.

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Ward is the second most capped player in the Auckland squad, having made 81 appearances for the province and scored 631 points. Daniel Braid has played 88 games for Auckland.

''I hope I can bring a bit of experience," Ward said.

''There are a couple of young guys coming through so I'm not too sure where I fit and how much game time I'll be getting, but as long as I'm in the squad and can pass on some advice I'll be happy.''

- © Fairfax NZ News

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