Todd Blackadder has approached Wellington coach Chris Boyd to join him at the Crusaders.
Following the sudden departure of disgruntled Crusaders assistant coach Daryl Gibson, who quit after being stripped of the backline attacking duties he held for four years, the franchise is experiencing a behind-the-scenes makeover, with three management vacancies to fill their expanded team.
Those include an appealing assistant coaching role with the most successful Super Rugby team in history, a defensive expert, and strength and conditioning trainer after Craig Jennings linked with new Warriors coach Matt Elliott.
After last year's underwhelming semi-final exit, the Crusaders identified their stuttering attack needed attention and Blackadder was under-resourced. Gibson's role was then split in two, and he left after being dejected with his demoted responsibilities.
"Gibbo wasn't happy with the role and not doing the back attack as well as defence," Blackadder said. "It's a clear line and he's decided to move on.
"Our backs were cramping and running sideways. We need to get more out of them. We've been average on defence and attack. They need their own focus. Something had to change."
Boyd has now emerged as the surprise front-runner to assume Gibson's assistant role. He appears the perfect candidate to spark the Crusaders misfiring All Black-laden backs, though it would signal a significant shift away from promoting former Canterbury players.
"While it may seem like a closed shop we do have an open mind," Blackadder said.
The Wellingtonian served a lengthy apprenticeship before taking over from Andre Bell in the capital this year. He was Wellington assistant coach from 2003-2006, when the side made three finals, and then followed John Plumtree to the Sharks for two further years.
Boyd confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times he was pondering the Crusaders assistant role and Blackadder had conveyed his interest. Others likely to be in the mix include former All Blacks Leon MacDonald and Aaron Mauger, but Blackadder's pursuit of Boyd suggests is he is the first-choice option.
"Todd and I have spoken," Boyd told the Star-Times. "I said I'd have a bit of a think about it and come back to him. I'll probably go back to Todd tomorrow and download my thoughts with him. I'm reasonably comfortable with where it's at.
"I've still got some process to go through yet. Obviously it would be a good organisation to work for but I've got some thinking to do and people to talk to."
Boyd is contracted to the Lions and New Zealand under-20s next year, but it is understood there is wriggle-room if he decides the Crusaders would further his progression.
"The timing, despite the fact I might have interest, might not be suitable," Boyd said.
Like many others, Blackadder has been impressed with Boyd's success in transforming a shambolic Wellington outfit in his first season in charge.
"Chris Boyd is doing a great job for Wellington, but for these guys to get the job they've got to apply. If they want to be a part of a team on the rise there's an opportunity there," Blackadder said. The assistant role is advertised from today and has a two-week deadline.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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