Crusaders' Ryan Crotty ready to step up

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2012
Ryan Crotty
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
BULLS LOSS: A flashback to 2009 is enough to remind Ryan Crotty what happens when a team deviates from its game plan.

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Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty has declared himself 100 per cent and ready to start against the Cheetahs if called on.

He started the season at second five-eighths but strained his hamstring and missed the defeats against the Highlanders and the Chiefs.

But the bye week has given him extra time to recover and he is "enjoying being out there training with the boys instead of running laps of the field".

"I'm keen to get in there and give it heaps," Crotty said. "The team hasn't been named yet but I'm good to go this weekend."

Coaches Todd Blackadder and Daryl Gibson name their starting lineup tomorrow but Crotty must be a strong contender to resume his midfield partnership with centre Robbie Fruean against the Cheetahs at Christchurch Stadium on Saturday.

Adam Whitelock, who has filled the No12 slot, is the ultimate utility man but Crotty, a former first five-eighth, offers a point of difference with a kicking game to go with his deceptive running and rigorous defence.

Crotty said he would have to bone up on some new strategies because the Crusaders "have added a couple of new things in the last couple of weeks".

"I like to run through them rather than write them down in a book. I'll have to get up to speed on one or two things but I would be stoked to be back in there."

The 23-year-old was disappointed to miss the Chiefs game, but said "you've got to do the right thing by the time and make sure you're fully fit".

"You don't want to come back too soon. [Chiefs halfback] Brendon Leonard did his hamstring and he's out for 10 weeks. It's been a frustrating time for me but it could be worse; you could be sitting on the sidelines for a long time [if you come back prematurely]."

Crotty would have been "good to play last weekend", if the Crusaders had not had the bye but the extra week's grace would ultimately be beneficial.

The New Brighton club stalwart grew up in the earthquake-ravaged eastern suburbs and is appreciating the chance to play at home this weekend after spending the 2011 season on the road.

"It's really exciting to be playing at the new stadium. The boys got a chance to check it out last week.

"I got talking to some of the builders there and it's pretty impressive how many hours they've put in to get it ready [for the Cheetahs game].

"It'll be good to get some normality back [by playing at home] and hopefully we'll get a cool crowd."

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Crotty played in the Crusaders' loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last year after being summoned to South Africa as a replacement when four backs were crocked in Cape Town against the Stormers.

He slotted straight in as if he had been playing all season but said it was "a difficult environment" playing at altitude in Bloemfontein.

Also, the Cheetahs had caught the Crusaders offguard by "throwing a lot of stuff at us from outside the square", including "forwards running in the backline off lineouts".

"They are definitely one of the more attacking teams in South Africa. We saw that [last Sunday] when they went the length of the field [to beat the Rebels in Melbourne]."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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