A stormy week ahead for the deflated Crusaders

04:42, Mar 04 2014
Richie McCaw
The expression of Richie McCaw's face says it all after the Crusaders missed seven penalties in an 18-10 loss to the Chiefs.
Israel Dagg
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg runs at Liam Messam during the season opener.
Nafi Tuitavake
Crusaders wing Nafi Tuitavake runs away from Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick.
Crusaders fans
Almost 17,000 Crusaders fans packed into Christchurch Stadium for the season opener.
Tim Perry
Crusaders prop Tim Perry is taken down by Charlie Faumuina.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw eyes up a tackle on George Moala before leaving the field injured.
Colin Slade
Colin Slade celebrates his first half try against the Blues.
Colin Slade and Reynold Lee-Lo
Crusaders Colin Slade (right) and Reynold Lee-Lo fail to secure the ball under pressure from George Moala.
Crusaders 2014 season
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers and the Crusaders' Kieran Read await a referee's decision during their clash in Christchurch.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates the final whistle following his side's comeback win over the Stormers.
Crusaders 2014 season
The Crusaders cheerleaders get the crowd going before kick-off against the Stormers.
Crusaders 2014 season
Sam Whitelock reaches highest to claim lineout ball for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
Kieran Read
Captain Kieran Read chats to his forward pack during a break against the Rebels.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg attempts to get himself out of the grasp of a Melbourne Rebel.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg unleashes a punt downfield.
Colin Slade
Crusaders first-five Colin Slade fires a pass to his outside backs.
Ben Funnell
Crusaders Kieran Read (left) and Nafi Tuitavake rush to congratulate hooker Ben Funnell after scoring.
2014 Crusaders season
Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders tries to offload under pressure from Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes.
2014 Crusaders season
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
2014 Crusaders season
The Crusaders players look dejected after losing to the Hurricanes at the death.
2014 Crusaders season
Nemani Nadolo makes a charge down the wing for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes.
2014 Crusaders season
The Crusaders' Kieron Fonotia and Owen Franks get to grips with Schalk van der Merwe of the Lions.
2014 Crusaders season
Nepo Laulala of Crusaders tackling Faf de Klerk of Lions during the teams' clash at Ellis Park.
Crusaders 2014 season
George Whitelock and Matt Todd of Crusaders smash Lions No 8 Warren Whitley.
Crusaders
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock takes a charge at the Lions defence.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders No 10 Colin Slade goes on a run against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders halfback Willi Heinz floats a pass out in his teams clash with the Cheetahs.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders captain Kieran Read breaks away from the back of a maul against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders 2014 season
Ryan Crotty swats the Cheetahs defence out of his way in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders 2014 season
Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Richie McCaw of the Crusaders takes the lineout during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Luke Whitelock of the Crusaders breaks away from the defence to score a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates with team mate Israel Dagg after scoring a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Nemani Nandolo of the Crusaders storms down the sideline during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs and Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders wrestle off the ball during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders in action during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders has a word with a team-mate during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Pat McCabe of the Brumbies is tackled by Israel Dagg of the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Colin Slade of the Crusaders kicks a conversion during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Crusaders 2014 season
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Crusaders 2014 season
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Ryan Crotty
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
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Nemani Nadolo crashes over the line for the Crusaders under pressure from a stern Blues defence.
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Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty has a cut at the Blues' line with Andy Ellis in support.
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Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo on the charge against the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Dominic Bird
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Dan Carter
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Colin Slade
Colin Slade shows his courage on a scything run against the Highlanders in round 19 of Super Rugby.
Colin Slade
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo fights for the ball in midair with Highlanders opposite Richard Buckman.
Colin Slade
New Zealand's top first five eighth Dan Carter on the break against the Highlanders.
Colin Slade
Israel Dagg shows his deft touch, unloading the ball while aerial in the tackle of Highlanders wing Patrick Osbourne.
Colin Slade
A Crusaders horseman spurs cheers from the Christchurch crowd ahead of their clash with the Highlanders.

The task of assaulting players with verbal missiles has yet to be added to the Crusaders coaches' work list.

Although assistant coach Dave Hewett would struggle to recall a Crusaders side crumbling as spectacularly as the one that lost 35-24 to the Blues last Friday, he denied technicolour language was required to ram some urgent messages home.

"Yes, you can get angry and we are angry and they [the players] are angry," Hewett said. "They are all angry with themselves and they are angry with their performance.

"But the reality is that kicking rubbish bins and kicking the cat and the dog is not going to help anyone. We just have to make sure the message is clear and it is executed properly."

Hewett is no fool. He knows the players may not appreciate having their reputations publicly battered by one of the management.
Who knows - perhaps he, along with boss Todd Blackadder and fellow assistants Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger, have vowed not to air their grubby laundry in public and are letting their men stew before getting stuck into them in a sound-proof room.

Or maybe the coaches launched their rockets post-match at Eden Park. The silent treatment, given the work that needs to be done, would be an unwise option.

Whatever happens things need to be urgently corrected if the Crusaders are to beat the Stormers in Christchurch on Saturday night.

The South Africans are rarely the happiest of travellers but anyone who watched the Blues score 29 unanswered points against the winless Crusaders knows that means nothing now.

The Stormers, who only scraped home against the Hurricanes last weekend and were thumped by the Lions in the opening round, don't appear to be up to much. In saying that, neither do the Crusaders.

One of the worst sights was watching them kick aimlessly back to the Blues, allowing their talented counter-attackers back into the game.

Fluffing around on defence, instead of clearing for touch, defied logic and the less said about the missed tackles the better.

"The frustration comes from [having] a game plan in place, that is not executed to the level that everyone going into the game should have had clarity on," Hewett said.

The Crusaders have invited a mental skills coach to join them this season and given what unfolded in Auckland, there is a lump of material to work with. Altering their game plan against the Stormers appears certain.

Last year lock Sam Whitelock played a major role in disrupting the South Africans' lineout, making life miserable for their giant Andries Bekker.

Bekker has since departed for Japan but the strategy, which required the injury-hit Crusaders to rely on defence, steely set-pieces and kicking for territory may be replicated.

"You play the Stormers, they have a great defensive line," Hewett said.

"They have about 13 [men] across the field, so trying to penetrate that is really hard. Kicking is part of that game plan. "

Meanwhile, Richie McCaw is due to see a specialist this week concerning his broken thumb to determine when, or if, an operation is required to insert a screw into the damaged digit.

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Richie McCaw
LISTEN UP: Injured flanker Richie McCaw, right, joins his team-mates in listening to assistant coach Aaron Mauger deliver some messages at training.

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