Semifinal loss a mystery for Todd Blackadder

18:41, Jul 29 2012
Todd Blackadder
WANTED: Todd Blackadder wants someone who can inject some much-needed wildfire into the Crusaders' backline.

Todd Blackadder is not expected to be kicked under a train by the Crusaders board.

Having admitted the day after Friday night's Super Rugby semifinal loss to the Chiefs was one of the “darkest" in his life, Crusaders coach Blackadder should at least take some comfort in knowing his immediate future at the franchise appears secure.

Blackadder, who has already re-signed for next season and expected to have assistants Daryl Gibson and Dave Hewitt alongside him, was shattered after watching his team bumble their way to the 20-17 defeat at Waikato Stadium.

Although Crusaders board chairman Murray Ellis said all positions were up for review, he confirmed no urgent meetings had been demanded by any members wanting to vent their annoyance.

"There is a review process that all coaches go through every year and I wouldn't want to pre-judge any of that," Ellis said.

"You go through everything but clearly, when you look at it, we got into a semifinal and ran into a hiccup. We are all on a bit of a downer at the moment because things didn't go so well on Friday night, but you know, you have to look at the full picture. We have made the playoffs in all four years.


"They don't become poor coaches overnight. We just have to see what we can learn from this."

The board is scheduled to meet next month and Blackadder should be safe. Although he has not won a title since replacing Robbie Deans in 2009, he has guided the team to semifinals on three occasions (2009, 2010 and 2012) and the final (2011).

The title-less streak is the longest in the franchise's history, yet Blackadder remains the most successful New Zealand Super coach during that period - although he will lose that title if Dave Rennie guides the Chiefs to victory over the Sharks in the final.

Blackadder, who watched footage of the loss twice over the weekend, remains puzzled why his internationals were among those making crucial errors.

"When we get into these positions it is the same guys making mistakes under pressure, and this is happening time after time.

"They don't always make bad decisions under pressure because a lot of them play for the All Blacks. When it comes to playing finals football for the Crusaders, the guys are making stupid errors.

"I just question where we were mentally on the day."

Unlike the previous weekend, when they intimidated the Bulls in the set pieces and breakdowns, the Crusaders' forwards couldn't counter the aggressive Chiefs pack, and first five-eighth Dan Carter was outplayed by his opposite, Aaron Cruden.

Carter and fellow All Black Israel Dagg - the latter rarely fired many shots for the Crusaders this year - failed to make an impact and centre Robbie Fruean never used his ball-running to great effect.

The absence of No 8 Kieran Read weakened their loose forward unit, along with the retirement of lock Luke Romano in the first half because of a shoulder injury.

"The day after that loss was one of the darkest of my life," Blackadder said.

"How can we be so clinical against the Bulls and then play so poorly against the Chiefs when we had everything to play for?

"They are the real questions we need to ask ourselves. We just seemed to lack a real hunger for it."