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Teamwork to drive Crusaders

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Sportal.co.nz     29 Mar 2013     Getty Images

The Crusaders are down on 300 Investec Super Rugby games of experience without Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and, most recently and unexpectedly, Kieran Read following his toe injury suffered last week.

But coach Todd Blackadder said the Read void would not be easy to fill but Luke Whitelock had stepped into the breach and he was backed by some quality young players who were looking to produce a 'really special' team effort to get across the line.

Blackadder made the point that the side had already played two South African sides in this year's competition so there was a degree of continuity in fronting up to the Stormers and the challenges they would bring.

It wouldn't be easy because the Stormers had the best defensive record in the competition.

One aspect that had received attention this week was the discipline issue, especially after the concession of silly penalties to the Southern Kings in their last outing.

The penalties conceded had all been avoidable and involved some 'dumb' play at times, he said.

They were working on strategies to be aware of their own systems so that there were no easy penalties conceded. That also highlighted not giving away penalties in their own half because the South African sides looked to put pressure on in the opposition half and to force mistakes.

"That's something we haven't down well this year and we need a real attitude shift to get that right this week," he said.

"We're really confident this young team will step up," he said.

There is also a desire to attempt to minimise the role that giant lock Andries Bekker can play for the Stormers.

"He's there talisman and if you can put pressure on him you can pressurise the whole team," he said.

All Black Sam Whitelock will be posted on Bekker duty for the game in a bid to contain him.

Captain George Whitelock agreed that it would be a big challenge for the Crusaders to rein him in.

"If we can put pressure on him in the set piece we'll be in the game. He's a real big part of their game and if you can stop him at source it helps," he said.

Having to step up and take over the mantle set by Read was a big ask but Whitelock said every team had injuries during the year and when someone went down, someone else stepped up.

His younger brother Luke was 'champing at the bit' to start and was looking forward to the challenge.

The Stormers were traditionally a massive pack and set-piece dominated but they had shown they could also be good by running the ball at the Brumbies last week.

Playing at Newlands was always daunting but Whitelock said prop Wyatt Crockett had talked with the team earlier in the week and made the point that it was one of the most enjoyable stadiums to play in in the world so to enjoy the occasion.