The loss to the Chiefs hasn't jeopardised the Crusaders coaches' jobs with head coach Todd Blackadder already reappointed for another three seasons - subject to a review at the end of each season.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach confirmed last night - just 24 hours after the heavily-favoured Cruaders were upset 20-19 in Hamilton - that Blackadder had re-signed and contract negotiations with assistant Coaches Dave Hewett, Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger were "in the final stages".
"This year was the first year that we have had a coaching resource made up of four dedicated coaches. It has allowed the Crusaders a more specialised focus on our defence and attack play and we are pleased with the foundation the coaching staff have developed."
Riach said Blackadder was a "tremendous coach and inspirational leader" and has the full backing of everyone at the Crusaders.
Blackadder took charge of the seven-times champions in 2009 and while he has not won a title, he has always pushed them into the playoffs. Hewett joined Blackadder's coaching crew in 2009, while this is Matson and Mauger's first season.
Last night Blackadder defended his coaching team.
"We were proud to have made a lot of changes this year, we wanted to get a better culture and get the balance right and I felt in the second part of the season we got back to playing some good Crusaders rugby."
One key area Blackadder wanted to change this year was to get his non-All Blacks to take more responsibility.
"We have a good coaching group here ... We know we live and die by our results."
Given the quality of the squad Blackadder inherited from Robbie Deans there have been high expectations.
But the Crusaders board have been satisfied with how the coaches have handled the disruption of the All Blacks' June test series, which forced them to manage some key internationals upon their return, and coped with the absence of Richie McCaw for most of the season.
Blackadder said Saturday night's defeat didn't leave him feeling as despondent as the 20-17 loss to the Chiefs in last year's semi because he felt the side fired more shots, were more aggressive and didn't lack determination.
"We can only rue our own mistakes. It was a game of real pressure and that's what you prepare for.
"If that kick [Dan Carter's penalty early in the second half] hadn't bounced off the posts and we hadn't given away a penalty soon after, things may have been different. I felt that shifted the momentum."
Had Carter slotted the penalty the Crusaders would have led 12-3. Instead Matt Todd gave away a penalty that was kicked by Aaron Cruden and five minutes later Lelia Masaga scored a try to put the Chiefs in front.
Chiefs captain Craig Clarke played a major role in his side's comeback when he grabbed a kickoff and split the Crusaders defence. Clarke said later the Chiefs knew they could rock their opponents if their forwards were combative and didn't allow them to settle into defensive systems.
Asked how he handled the disappointing defeat, Blackadder said it was important to be "philosophical".
"You have to be or you would go insane."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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