Super Rugby

Crusaders have their eyes on the big prize

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The Crusaders hope to use the next block of four Super Rugby matches to consolidate or improve their position in the Super Rugby standings.

The Crusaders had a bye last week and have four games before the June Internationals starting with the Reds this week.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder is not taking the Reds lightly after they set up a lead in the first 25 minutes against the Highlanders that effectively won the match.

“They’ve got good big players who love carrying the ball over the advantage line and I just think in this competition if the mind’s not quite right you can slip up and be put away.

“We’ recalibrating, starting again and we respect them and know what they’re capable of but I think it’s more about what we bring,” Blackadder told the NZRU site.

The Crusaders have equalled their seven match unbeaten run from 2011 and a victory this week will be the first time since 2008 that they will have won 8 in a row.

Blackadder is keeping his players humble and ensuring that the still take one match at at time.

“If you think you’re better than what you are you get put away. We’re not taking anything for granted and we’re not buying into this eight or nine [wins] in a row sort of stuff, it doesn’t feel like that this year. ”

“The team is hungry to get out there and win in every game. We’ve done our work on these guys and we’ve prepared well,” said Blackadder.

Blackadder said that he was enjoying coaching the team without the usual stress as the feeling in the squad is that they are ‘bubbling away quite nicely’ but they know they are still building and are not at their best yet.

“We’re taking lessons out of every game,” he said.

Coach Blackadder has identified that part of the change in the Crusaders results this year is down to their defence and he has been taking more responsibility with the defence and has found that it helps his overall approach to the job.

The Crusaders have previously concentrated on attack but this year giving the defence more attention has helped.

“I think our defence has lifted our overall performance. ”

“Our guys are constantly working on their tackle technique and working within our systems and we do a lot of homework on our opposition and it is pleasing when the stats are high, it means everyone’s doing the work and it shows out there on the field,” he said.

Captain Kieran Read said that with the pressure in the New Zealand Conference as it is they cannot afford to lose a game – especially one in Christchurch.

“We’re happy with where we’re at, and looking at the competition as a whole we can’t afford to be dropping off, and games at home are more vital to pick up some points,” he said.

“It’s probably perfect timing for us, we’ve got a month’s footy before the June break so we can kick into gear now and go hard for a month and then the guys get another break,” he said.

After the Reds the Crusaders play the Highlanders in Dunedin, the Waratahs at home, the Blues in Auckland before breaking for the June Internationals.

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