Pre-season record of little concern to Read

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013

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Ugly pre-season results do not bother Kieran Read.

The Crusaders recorded an unconvincing 16-14 win against the Waratahs in Sydney last week, having suffered earlier defeats to the Highlanders and Hurricanes in Oamaru and Timaru.

With just over a week until their opening match - the Crusaders have a first-round bye - new captain Read is not bothered by the on-field misfires.

"No, it isn't a worry at all. Results don't really matter at all in these games," Read said.

Observers at the Waratahs game were unimpressed by the Crusaders' performance. Many noted that had the Sydneysiders not spurned a string of kickable penalties, they would have consigned the Crusaders to an unflattering 0-3 record before their March 1 opener against the Blues.

The Crusaders relied on a late Tom Taylor penalty to seal the victory.

Even if they had lost, Read said he would not have been bothered.

Not only have the Crusaders been busy rotating their rosters and selecting academy and wider training group players in the earlier games, they have also been loathe to give opponents an insight into their strategies when competition points are not at stake.

"We have a simple skeleton of the game we want to have with us for the whole year, and we are working on that," No 8 Read said.

"Every week, we try certain things," he said.

This afternoon, the Crusaders will stage an "inter-squad" match at Rugby Park, which will be shut-off from the public. The opening 30 minutes will be against the Crusaders Knights development team, followed by two more "thirds" involving the squad being mixed into different teams.

Coach Todd Blackadder wants to field his strongest team for the final 30 minutes. However, he is likely to manipulate the game to force the team to play in dedicated scenarios.

"Everyone will get roughly about 60 minutes," Blackadder said.

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