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Time for Crusaders to lift their game

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Sportal.co.nz     12 Apr 2013     Getty Images

While the Crusaders have tripped up in Perth before, Blackadder said the difference this time around is the side have had more time in the city to prepare and that preparation has fitted what he believes will be a tough game.

It will be all the tougher without first five-eighths Dan Carter who had been going to rejoin the side after missing the South African leg on paternity leave, but as Blackadder explained a hamstring twinge in the last play of a training session earlier in the week forced him out.

He also decided to give flanker Matt Todd and lock Sam Whitelock a break. Both were suffering the cumulative effect from the last five games.

"Their stats [statistics] and workload have been unbelievable. But we have faith in the guys replacing them," he said.

While it was a start for Shane Christie on the flank, he had been working with the squad while Dominic Bird, who filled in during Luke Romano's absence earlier in the season, was being kept in the mix with his selection.

Blackadder said the injury to fullback Israel Dagg had been more serious than earlier understood but he was back and wanting 'to have a go'.

"The back three want to really open up this week. We want to get him [Dagg] out there and give him some confidence," he said.

The build-up for the game had been interesting when compared with the earlier games. The Stormers game had been obvious preparation for the first game of a tour against a redoubtable opponent while there was a short turnaround ahead of the Sharks game where the side hadn't done a lot.

But this week had been longer than usual, the players were fresh and were well and truly focused, he said.

"We can't afford more slip-ups. The Force won't lie down against the Crusaders, the have done well against us in the past. But we've never had a week to prepare before."

Blackadder said there was a lot of motivation to rid the game of the disciplinary issues that gave away avoidable penalties. There was disappointment with the performance in the Sharks game. They had kicked away too much ball and didn't maintain pressure.

And some of the penalties awarded against them had them scratching their heads, he said. Some of them had been a vital stages of the game.

"It's a grey area but we have to take it on the chin. But discipline is a general theme we haven't quite been about to master this year. And the teams are so close now [in standard] that penalties have more effect now," he said.