Early efforts pay off for Crusaders

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Unbeaten so far, the side play the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday where a win would ensure their play-offs status while all that needs to be determined is their final finishing position and the hope of home advantage all the way through.


Assistant coach Brad Mooar said the thinking had been to have the rugby preparation in early to be at the point of their last pre-season game being in readiness to play their first Super rugby game.

Mooar said watching the team's weekly efforts going into preparation, and the trust building into confidence in one another, as a result of having done the required work, had been satisfying so far during the campaign.

"These guys are really good mates and they are doing a great job of building friendships and they are also very strong team-mates as well. They're not afraid to hold each other accountable for the footy stuff and the behaviour stuff," he said.

The side couldn't accept that they had qualified for the play-offs yet and they certainly couldn't start thinking about prospective titles.

"There's a lot more footy yet to go under the bridge or on the field. It's not easy to look too far ahead because we will slip up. We are totally focused on the Rebels this week. We put the Chiefs to bed, that review's been done. We're onto being better tomorrow than we were today and making sure that we're ready to crack into the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday," he said.
The Rebels were a side trying hard but having to cope with the 'disappointing uncertainty' about their future which had a 'massive human element' to it. As a result they will be trying to fix a lot and in the meantime worrying about the future, their players, their staff, their office staff.

"What better opportunity have they got than to be the first to take the scalp of the Crusaders in 2017. I'm sure that will be a factor galvanising them to put a performance on," he said.

So far as playing personnel was concerned concussion victims from Suva, Ryan Crotty and Matt Todd were working through their protocols on a day by day basis.

Israel Dagg was back training with the squad and available for selection on Saturday.

Mooar said having experienced the side last year under coach Todd Blackadder and being involved in the new regime with Scott Robertson, he could only repeat what Robertson had said about things not being broken, just being given a different perspective.

"It's pretty clear we've changed a bit about how we've played. The group that people are talking about now are one year further on. The Richie Mo'unga's, David Havili, Jack Goodhue, they're just that year of more maturity and they're augmented by some other guys who are ready to go and take their opportunities: Bridgey [George Bridge], Seta [Tamanivalu], Mitch [Drummond] and Bryn [Hall] have been playing the majority of games at nine [halfback] for us and they've just been driving each other along with Leon [MacDonald] to be better.

"I think we've got a real clarity on what our identity is and what we need from everybody in their positions and then it's up to us to coach that and those guys to execute it," he said.