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Crusaders look for an edge with US Army

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Friday, December 15, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Assistant coach Brad Mooar spent time at the United States Army base at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the largest military installation in the world with its 50,000 personnel. It is the headquarters of the US Army Special Operations Command.

Mooar spent two days with educators for the special warfare forces as part of the Crusaders' team management efforts to get better during the off-season with the players in mind.

He wanted to do work in three areas: strategy and planning, leadership identification and development and emotional and mental well-being and recovery.

The latter was especially important for coping with post-game situations where players needed to deload and turn from rugby player to normal person.

"There was a lot of transferable stuff, both ways and I think a lot of what we are doing is what they're doing and there are certainly a couple of ideas we got out of that we can help our guys with," he said.

With the Crusaders suffering injury concerns among their loose forwards, including having All Blacks captain and No.8 undergoing back surgery on Saturday, former All Black, Maori All Black and North Harbour tight-loose forward Jarrad Hoeta has joined them as injury cover.

He trained with the Crusaders in their annual pre-season run up Mt Pleasant on Friday and he helped provide a bit of an edge in the training.

"Pre-season is not all about 18 and 19-year-olds bouncing up the hill. It's great to have a man like that in the mixer and sure, he is covering for people who are away or injured at the moment and part of the picture of what post-January will look like," Mooar said.

New Crusader Billy Harmon said it had been a productive few weeks and having been involved in the Crusaders Academy and Canterbury as well it was something he was used to with everything aimed to building up to the Super Rugby environment.

While the injuries in the Crusaders loose forwards might offer him a chance to play earlier than anticipated, he said he wasn't thinking about that and was just concentrating on making the most of the chances he had to be in the squad.