Togetherness needed to escape the doldrums
Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis is hoping a long flight overseas and some extended time in camp together will provide the struggling side with the boost they need to get their Super Rugby campaign back on track.
Off the back of another frustrating defeat on Friday night, when they were beaten by the Hurricanes 29-26 at AMI Stadium, the Crusaders' season is in the doldrums and won't be helped by a two-match visit to South Africa where victories will be a paramount if they are to revive their campaign.
The side flew out first thing on Saturday morning and Ellis was adamant that time away together was just what they needed.
"I really think it's going to help us get things back to the way they should be," Ellis said.
"There will be a lot of time together drinking milkshakes and playing cards and just being a team which will be good.
"We are well aware things aren't quite going the way they should be and this trip will give us the chance to try and sort that out."
The Lions lie in wait for the Crusaders on Sunday (NZT) at Ellis Park and their unpredictability and flair makes a dangerous combination for a side trying to recapture form.
"Of what we have seen of the Lions this season they have certainly showed that when their tails are up they can be dangerous," Ellis said.
"So we need to prepare for pretty much anything once we get over there.
"If we can sort out a few of the minor issues like silly mistakes and trying to build some continuity, then I think things will change for us."
Following the Lions match the Crusaders will head for Bloemfontein to tackle the Cheetahs.
On their return to New Zealand there is a match against the Chiefs in Hamilton which only adds to the pressure of needing to secure a good dose of competition points over the next two weeks.
While in South Africa, the Crusaders will be without the services of Luke Romano. The imposing lock left the field after 10 minutes of the Hurricanes match, with a serious calf strain which resulted in his withdrawal from the trip.
Initially there were also concerns around captain Kieran Read, who left the paddock shortly after Romano after receiving a head knock in his 100th Super Rugby match.
The knock was considered to be at the tamer end of the scale and Read boarded the flight on Saturday.
Jimmy Tupou has taken the place of Romano in the squad.
The Crusaders took 27 players to South Africa, but beleaguered winger Zac Guildford wasn't with them.
The out-of-flavour All Black is yet to suit up for the playing side this season and although he has struggled with a minor injury, questions will be starting to emerge as to whether his playing days in New Zealand are over.
He's played one match for the development side and is considered by many as a player who has the X-factor which is so clearly lacking from the back line.
True Crusaders fans never give up. Show you're still supporting the men in red and black by entering this competition.
- The Press
What do you make of the Blues signing Jimmy Cowan?Related story: (See story)