Coach Todd Blackadder's job at Crusaders safe

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014
Todd Blackadder
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ONE MORE YEAR: Todd Blackadder talks to the media during this season's Super Rugby campaign.

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Crusaders boss Hamish Riach has endorsed Todd Blackadder and his coaching team for at least another season.

Although Crusaders head coach Blackadder and his assistants Dave Hewett, Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger have signed with the franchise until the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season, the honouring of such agreements can be subject to confidential conditions related to a team's performance or whether they make the playoffs.

Following last Saturday night's 33-32 defeat to the Waratahs in the grand final in Sydney, the Crusaders management are now preparing to conduct end-of-season interviews and medicals with squad members.

The coaches will also front the franchise's board for their post-season reviews and, although they didn't win the title, chief executive Riach suggested they would continue to have their bosses' backing.

"They combined really well and guided the team to within two minutes of the trophy - they are a great group and we look forward to them continuing again next year," Riach said.

"They are good men who will dust themselves off and start learning lessons from this campaign and put plans in place for next year."

The loss to the resurgent Waratahs means the Crusaders have not won a title since 2008. Blackadder has never won a title in six years but has guided the team to the grand final twice and the semis on four occasions.

The Crusaders were filthy that referee Craig Joubert's controversial penalty against Richie McCaw at a ruck, which resulted in Bernard Foley kicking the match-winning penalty from 45m in the dying minutes, robbed them of their eighth title.

Riach refused to comment on Joubert's ruling but commended Blackadder and his coaching team for getting to close to victory after a slow start to the year left them with a a 2-3 record.

"They are bitterly disappointed. They have worked so hard to get to that point of having their nose in front until the last couple of minutes and then to have it disappear - you can imagine their disappointment is palpable.

"Overall, right now, it is hard to get past the raw emotion of a narrow loss. It hurts like hell the week after.

"But if you take a step away from that it was great to be in the final, we are full of admiration of the way the coaches and the team turned around the slow start and played some pretty decent footy along the way."

Signing wing Nemani Nadolo, who will re-join his club in Japan this week, remains a priority.

Riach wouldn't comment on where the negotiations with Nadolo are it but the player has repeatedly stated he wants to return to the Crusaders next year. Those comments have been backed by Blackadder and Riach and getting the Fijian's signature will be a relief for the organisation and their fans.

The deadline for confirming full squads to the New Zealand Rugby Union is not until late October but getting Nadolo to commit soon will reduce any anxiety about another team making a late bid.

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Meanwhile, the Crusaders expect to make a surplus for their season.

They were awarded a A$125,000 fee by the Waratahs for qualifying for the final and crowds were up on last season.

"We have our noses in front financially. We are still weighing-up the numbers but we know we made a small surplus so that is encouraging.

"The year is by no means a failure but it is still pretty gutting to come so close to the title and not have it on the mantelpiece."

- The Press

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