McCaw absence no excuse says Blackadder

16:00, Mar 10 2013
Dan Carter
Dan Carter flings it wide.
Crusaders
Crusaders win the lineout against the Blues at Eden Park.
Crusaders
The Crusaders gather behind their goal-line after conceding a try to the Blues.
Robbie Fruean
Robbie Fruean on the charge for the Crusaders against the Blues.
Kieran Read
Kieran Read looks on disconsolately after the Crusaders one-point loss to the Hurricanes.
Ryan Crotty
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against the Hurricanes.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter chases down the loose ball.
Crusaders v Bulls
Robbie Fruean celebrates his try as the Crusaders finally get a win this season over the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Ryan Crotty makes a break during the Crusaders win over the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Tom Marshall fends off a Bulls tackle.
Crusaders v Bulls
Zac Guildford watches from the stands as the Crusaders beat the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Captain Kieran Read was a standout in the Crusaders win over the Bulls in Christchurch.
Zac Guildford runs the ball against the Kings.
Zac Guildford runs the ball against the Kings.
Crusaders vs Kings
Dan Carter is a tackled by a Kings player.
Crusaders vs Kings
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings.
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings
Crusaders 2013 Season
The Crusaders celebrate the win during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Crusaders celebrate the try of Matt Todd during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Matt Todd of the Crusaders scores a try during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders v Sharks
Owen Franks is tackled during the Crusaders 21-17 loss to the Sharks in Durban.
Crusaders v Sharks
Andy Ellis scores a try during the Crusaders' loss to the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Franco van der Merwe of the Sharks out-jumps Sam Whitelock.
Crusaders v Sharks
The Sharks celebrate their win over the Crusaders in Durban.
Crusaders v Force
Israel Dagg is tackled by the Force's Junior Raolea.
Crusaders v Force
Sam Whitelock breaks a line during the Crusaders' loss to the Force.
Crusaders v Force
Luke Romano dives over for a try which would later be disallowed.
Crusaders v Force
Robbie Fruean fends off Kyle Godwin as the Crusaders went down to the Force in Perth.
Crusaders gallery
The Crusaders celebrate after scoring a try against the Highlanders.
Crusaders gallery
Luke Whitelock charges into the Highlanders defence.
Crusaders gallery
Israel Dagg tries to evade the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Zac Guildford chases after the loose ball.
Crusaders gallery
Owen Franks of the Crusaders charges into Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Ben Funnell is taken in the tackle by the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter made his return to action for the Crusaders against the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
George Whitelock leads the Crusaders on to AMI Stadium for the game against the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter is taken in the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Ryan Crotty on the charge against the Brumbies.
Crusaders gallery
Sam Whitelock gets a pass away in the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Robbie Fruean (left) and Joe Moody celebrate after the Crusaders win over the Brumbies in Canberra.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Andy Ellis talks to the crowd after being presented with a mere in recognition of playing 100 games for the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Dan Carter unleashes a kick for the Crusaders against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Sam Whitelock takes breather during the clash against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Crusaders fans show their support for the team in the clash against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013
Ben Funnell spins the ball wide against the Chiefs.
Crusaders 2013
Zac Guildford (centre) and the Crusaders lament their loss to the Chiefs.
Crusaders 2013
Andy Ellis surveys his options from the base of the scrum against the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2013
Tom Taylor attempts a shot at goal against the Chiefs.
Crusaders season 2013
Dominic Bird of the Crusaders attended to by the team doctor during his side's Round 16 clash with the Waratahs in Christchurch.
Crusaders season 2013
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders passes the ball back to Kieran Read under pressure from Waratah Kane Douglas.
Crusaders season 2013
Luke Romano wins a lineout for the Crusaders against the Waratahs.
Crusaders season 2013
Michael Hopper of the Waratahs makes a charge against the Crusaders at AMI Stadium.
Super Rugby Gallery
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders is tackled by Ben Smith of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders is dumped by Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Ben Smith jumping in the air for the ball with Crusaders Matt Todd & Dan Carter.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Hosea Gear being tackled by Crusaders players Dan Carter (left) & George Whitelock.
Super Rugby Gallery
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled by Kade Poki of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg celebrates.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders first five-eighth Dan Carter.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders Kieran Read on his way to the try-line.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Kieran Read runs out at AMI stadium.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg takes off.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty tries to escape Chiefs flanker Sam Cane.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Kieran Read leads the Crusaders on to AMI Stadium for their final regular season game against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Halfback Willi Heinz gets a kick away against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Brothers Ben (left) and Owen Franks catch up after going head to head for the Hurricanes and Crusaders.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Dan Carter gestures to an assistant referee during the game against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders vs Reds
Ryan Crotty dives over to score for the Crusaders.
Crusaders vs Reds
Dan Carter strolls over the line to score a try.
Crusaders vs Reds
Richie McCaw looks on from the Crusaders bench during his side's Super Rugby qualifier with the Reds.
Crusaders vs Reds
Sam Whitelock takes on the Reds defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Liam Messam takes on the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Lelia Masaga has a cut at the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Asaeli Tikoirotuma is downed by Owen Franks.

Todd Blackadder has spurned suggestions Richie McCaw's absence has robbed the Crusaders of their ability to lay king-hits on opponents.

Squandering a nine-point lead during last Friday night's 29-28 loss to the Hurricanes and getting thumped 34-15 by the Blues a week earlier has left the Crusaders with more than just an 0-2 record; it has also fuelled concerns they have lost the knack of grinding down teams before pulling the trigger.

It now seems everyone outside the inner-sanctum - diehard fans, media, casual observers - are offering reasons for the Crusaders' slow start which has yielded just two competition points.

An obvious starting point is to blame the absence of All Blacks captain McCaw for the inability to close out the Hurricanes match, or as was the case in the Blues fixture, to at least secure a bonus point instead of conceding a try in the final seconds.

Crusaders head coach Blackadder is having none of it.

Although his immediate emotions were probably a fusion of anger and disbelief as he watched Alapati Leiua intercept Adam Whitelock's pass in the dying minutes at the Cake Tin, Blackadder said McCaw's absenteeism is offset by the Crusaders' hardened veterans.

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"We have no excuses there because we have got plenty of experienced people in the forwards and ‘DC' (Dan Carter) is a very experienced leader of the backline. And look at the likes of (openside flanker) Matt Todd who is having a blinder of a season and has probably been our best player in the last two weeks."

Over the off-season the Crusaders formulated plans to ensure All Blacks such as Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks and Carter, who was also relieved of the vice-captaincy, didn't have to shoulder the burden of leading the team. But the plan is yet to pay off.

Although the Crusaders surged back after trailing 12-7 against the Hurricanes, the decision to fling the ball wide instead of holding possession and building phases inside their own half almost beggared belief.

Blackadder conceded he was frustrated his side but refused to crucify Adam Whitelock.

"I would like us to be a bit more ruthless but we are where we are.

"We probably should have won but there was a hell of a lot improvement. I was very pleased with the attack in the second half.

"We know we need to improve our discipline and our error-rate was too high."

The Crusaders hold a reputation for being slow starters to their Super Rugby campaigns and it has not been uncommon to drop their opening matches.

They last conceded two losses at the beginning of the season against the Waratahs and Blues in 2004.

Changes to the run-on XV for Saturday night's match against the Bulls at AMI Stadium are unlikely but reserve back Tom Taylor will be unavailable for several weeks after injuring his medial ligament in the lead-up to Carter's try in Wellington.

Lock Luke Romano is also expected to again be declared unfit because of his rib injury.

"I don't think we need to change much," Blackadder said.

"I'm fairly pleased where we are at - a win would change things psychologically but we are still in great heart."

The Press