Crusaders ready to run at the Hurricanes

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 20/04/2012
Todd Blackadder
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
BURST OF SPEED: Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder (left) says his team need to take an attacking mindset into their Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes.

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The Crusaders may be curious to see how the Hurricanes react to a dose of their own medication.

Having saturated their playbooks with a repeat-kick philosophy during last weekend's 31-24 win over the Stormers, the Crusaders hinted they might pitch some curry back into their attack at the Cake Tin tomorrow night.

Written off as probable no-hopers before the season began, the Mark Hammett-coached Canes have jabbed a stick in their critics' eyes by scoring tries – plenty of them as it happens – from all corners of the park and winning four of their first seven matches.

There has been nothing conservative from Hammett's lot either; they have scored 26 tries and rest fifth on the log. By comparison the seventh-placed Crusaders have accumulated 13 tries and with 23 points they trail the Hurricanes by two.

The Hurricanes have amassed four four-try bonus points.

The Crusaders have zilch.

"We're looking to change things a bit," responded Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

"We are going up there to play and we need to attack. We're going up there to have a go." Blackadder, who has made one change to his team by bringing Adam Whitelock in to replace injured right wing Sean Maitland, is unlikely to demand his backs copy the Hurricanes' helter-skelter counter-attacks.

Tom Taylor, who scored all the points last weekend, and Dan Carter are again at first and second five-eighths. But their labours are likely to be less conservative as their outside backs are likely to to be fed more ball rather than chasing down-field kicks.

Blackadder is still waiting for his backline to operate at high-torque, with too much lateral-running, and too many handling errors or poor passes.

While Blackadder believes the Hurricanes will make subtle strategic changes, he still expects Hammett will give his men licence to question the Crusaders' defence.

"I think one thing that has come out loud and strong is they want to earn the respect back of their public, have a good culture and they want to play well.

"I still expect them to do what they have been doing."

Having played alongside Hammett and then employed him as his assistant for two years before he joined the Wellington franchise last year, Blackadder also noted their game plans had a familiar look. "We have looked at the patterns – they are very similar to ours. If anything we should be more accustomed to what those pictures look like because we have been running them for the last 16 years."

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CRUSADERS: Israel Dagg, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Dan Carter, Zac Guildford, Tom Taylor, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (C), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Tom Donnelly, Ben Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Quentin Macdonald, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Ryan Crotty, Tom Marshall.

- Canterbury

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