Blackadder seeks backline genius for Crusaders
Todd Blackadder doesn't care if his new attack coach hails from Dar es Salaam, Odessa or Orepuki.
He just wants someone who can inject some much-needed wildfire into the Crusaders' backline.
Having convinced the Crusaders board he needs to re-shuffle his coaching set-up, Blackadder will advertise for another assistant who must squeeze the best out of a backline that includes Dan Carter, Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Andy Ellis and Robbie Fruean.
Blackadder was bitterly disappointed when his side capitulated to the Chiefs in their semifinal in Hamilton this winter and when he later trawled through the team's statistics sheets and recalled his backline's unpredictable displays - rubbish one week and brilliant the next - he was adamant something needed to change.
Daryl Gibson, who has been the backline coach since 2009, has lost that portfolio.
He will now be in charge of team defence, while Dave Hewett remains the assistant forwards coach.
Since taking over from Robbie Deans in 2009 Blackadder, who has yet to win a title, has steadily introduced a stream of former team-mates into his coaching crew.
Gibson and Hewett, skills coach Tabai Matson and manager Angus Gardiner are also former Crusaders players and other ex-comrades such as Reuben Thorne, Aaron Mauger and Leon MacDonald have also been sighted at trainings on occasion.
Which raises the question: will this role be reserved for one of the boys?
"We are open-minded, I don't care if he comes from Tanzania," Blackadder said. "He doesn't have to be an ex-Crusaders player . . . we just need the best guy for the job."
The position will be advertised next week and it is hoped an appointment will be made before pre-season training in November.
"We have also probably been guilty as coaches of being involved in too much cross-pollination," Blackadder added. "We have all done bits in defence and attack.
"This isn't about sticking a band-aid over a weeping sore. It is about what we need to win the championship. All the stats tell me we have been operating averagely and we are giving the attack the focus it deserves."
There are potential contenders within the Crusaders region.
Although Mauger has not coached a provincial team the former midfielder, a respected thinker of the backline craft, and ex-fullback MacDonald - who has been assisting Kieran Keane at Tasman since returning from Japan a couple of years ago - could be tempted.
Matson is in his first season as Canterbury head coach after assisting Rob Penney for several seasons.
Blackadder, who is contracted until the end of next season, is under intense pressure to win next year. He had a thorough review with the board who are understood to have put some heat on the coach about the lack of a title since 2008.
It is also understood the team's management have recognised they need to extract more value out of their key All Blacks.
Although the likes of Richie McCaw has proven to be highly influential with the national team, there remains a feeling he could contribute more to the Crusaders.
That has been complicated in recent seasons by his foot injury.
Last year McCaw made just seven appearances and his post-World Cup surgery meant he didn't return to duty until the 10th round this season.
- © Fairfax NZ News