Crusaders hoping history doesn't repeat

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2013
Todd Blackadder
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
TODD BLACKADDER: "If you haven't got the attitude right, you are going to lose the physical battle every single time."

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Todd Blackadder doesn't have a short memory.

So the Crusaders boss won't appreciate being reminded of what happened when his side last faced the Hurricanes on June 30 last year.

The Hurricanes inflicted a a 23-22 shock loss in Christchurch that night, forcing the Crusaders to concede any chance of topping the New Zealand conference.

The visitors were in fine voice that evening but have been more sombre over the last fortnight, having dropped their opening matches against the Blues and Reds.

The mood has not been so cheerful among the Crusaders this week, either, and yesterday Blackadder reinforced he will not accept his team being bullied around the Cake Tin as they were at AMI Stadium last year. Or at Eden Park last week.

Correcting the breakdown, where the Blues prevented the Crusaders spitting out quick ball, is one area where Blackadder will demand improvements.

"First of all, the intent in the head has got to be right and it starts with the attitude," Blackadder said.

"If you haven't got the attitude right, you are going to lose the physical battle every single time. When two forces collide it is when the better technique comes out."

Blackadder has moved to stop the rot following the 34-15 defeat to the Blues, switching Israel Dagg back to fullback and introducing new wings Johnny McNicholl and Tom Marshall.

Dominic Bird replaces Luke Romano, who is nursing sore ribs, in the second row.

Blackadder tips Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett to order his forwards to roll the Crusaders.

"If you are not meeting fire with fire you are going to come second. I know they will try and put a lot of energy into that contact area to try and slow our ball and obstruct us."

Questioning Dan Carter's form - the playmaker admitted he can be a slow starter - after his mild performance drew Blackadder's ire.

Asked whether Carter saves himself for the All Blacks, Blackadder replied that was "an insult" to the No 10.

"We didn't do things very well and he's the playmaker. I know he is expected to bring out a magic wand everytime he plays and he didn't.

"But I think it is more of a collective thing than just singling one guy out."

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