Ryan Crotty has been extremely impressed playing alongside rookie Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue.
On the odd occasion, however, the no. 12 has to turn around and make sure his no. 13 is not asleep on the job.
“I like his mannerisms out on the field but sometimes I need to check he is awake, he is so calm,“ Crotty said.
“For a young guy and I have played alongside him in some pretty big moments, for him to not seem flustered but to see him cool, calm and on task, has always impressed me and I am sure it will impress me again on Saturday night.”
Saturday night will see Crotty and a fully-awake Goodhue partnering up in the All Blacks midfield for the first time, when the Kiwis take on the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium.
It will be only the second Test appearance for 23-year-old Goodhue, who made his All Blacks debut in the third Test against France in June.
The former New Zealand Under 20s and Sevens star only arrived on the Super Rugby scene last year but quickly made himself a permanent fixture at no. 13 for the Crusaders.
Outside Crotty, Goodhue was a rock solid presence for the Crusaders as they won back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2017 and 2018.
That form helped the youngster beat out the more experienced Anton Lienert-Brown for the All Blacks no. 13.
“Ryan and Jack have played a lot of footy together,” New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said.
“We are starting with a combination that is really rock solid and has played most of the season together. It gives us a chance to look at it at a higher level.”
Goodhue said he was excited to get a chance to play in his first Bledisloe Cup clash.
“I didn’t think watching as a little boy I would get the chance but now I do,” Goodhue said.
“Ryan is great to play with, he gives me lots of confidence out there. His communication is amazing. So I will definitely feel at home in that situation, playing with him in that combination.”
Along with Goodhue’s calm demeanour, Crotty said the youngster’s work ethic was extremely impressive.
“I think he is one of the hardest working midfielders going around, you look at his GPS stats, look at the amount of contact he gets through in a game and on a defensive side as well. Through his fight in his line-running,” Crotty said.
The Wallabies’ defensive combination in the midfield will be all-new, and the All Blacks have admitted they’ll target the region.
But the established defensive trust of the Crusaders pair is hoped to translate seamlessly through to the Bledisloe Cup arena, said Crotty.
“Trust comes through your preparation, and trust is forged in the heat of battle as well,” Crotty said.
“I think with Jack we have played a lot of rugby together in the last two or three years and there is a lot of trust there because we do work so hard together off the field. You know what pictures are coming and you know you and your partner are both prepared well enough for what they throw at you.”