Blackadder promises improvement

Getty Images     07 Mar 2013     Getty Images

The Crusaders suffered a humbling start to their campaign, conceding five tries and scoring none against the Blues last Friday, while the Hurricanes also lost to the Blues before being beaten by the Reds in Brisbane.

The Hurricanes were the only team to beat the Crusaders at their new home ground at AMI Stadium last year, but that was their first win since 2009 and they had earlier been hammered 42-14 in Wellington.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made three changes to the team overrun in Auckland, with fullback Tom Taylor and right wing Adam Whitelock moving to the bench.

Israel Dagg will return to his preferred position of fullback, allowing the fit-again Johnny McNicholl to make his debut on the left wing.

Versatile Tom Marshall starts on the right wing with lock Dominic Bird getting his first Crusaders start as All Blacks second-rower Luke Romano battles a rib cartilage injury.

Blackadder is not too downcast after the blues defeat, putting it down to 'first game scenario'.

"It was our first game and against a red-hot team," Blackadder said after training on Wednesday.

"Yes we did make mistakes and yes it wasn't perfect and we missed a few tackles, but we've had time to redress and review what we need to do.

"We need to bring a different mindset and we're going to do that. Hopefully what you'll see is an outstanding performance by everyone because that's what it is going to take against the Hurricanes."

Blackadder said the return of McNicholl after a back injury enabled Dagg to resume at fullback.

"That's great news for us and I'm sure for him. It gives us more speed at the back and I think Israel feels a lot more confident [at fullback] and it takes away his anxiety."

The match will also feature All Black brothers, Ben Franks and younger sibling Owen, packing down against other in the scrums which Blackadder said would add something to the contest.

"It will be no different to what you'd see at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"They'll always be in a fight to see who gets to the food first. But it's good to see brothers out there playing against each other and I don't think there'll be an aggressive confrontation."


1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Corey Flynn, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Dominic Bird, 5.Sam Whitelock, 6.George Whitelock, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read (c), 9.Andy Ellis, 10.Dan Carter, 11.Johnny McNicholl, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Robbie Fruean, 14.Tom Marshall, 15.Israel Dagg.

Reserves: 16.Ben Funnell, 17.Joe Moody, 18.Tom Donnelly, 19.Luke Whitelock, 20.Willi Heinz, 21.Tom Taylor, 22.Adam Whitelock.