Bruised Crusaders want better execution

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With another derby against neighbours the Highlanders in Christchurch on Friday they were conscious of the need to have the fittest players possible on the field for what was likely to be another physical contest.


Captain and lock Scott Barrett (pictured) was an immediate concern. He didn't train on Monday and was being assessed ahead of the Highlanders.


Assistant coach Mark Jones said it had been a bruising derby game in Auckland and management wanted to be clear that all players were okay before being considered for Friday's game.


If Barrett was fit and able to train on Wednesday he would be eligible for selection.

The Crusaders were continuing to work on achieving clarity in their execution, something they felt hadn't been completely on target at Eden Park.


Jones said: "It's an early part of the season so you have obviously got a limited amount of game time to reflect upon at the moment. We're three games deep coming into the fourth so naturally there's always a little bit of excitement around playing at the beginning of the season.


"The conditions obviously lend themselves to being a fast, wide open game and with that can come skill execution pressures.


"We're like every other team at the moment, we're just trying to make sure those skill executions are being put under pressure in training so that when we get into the real deal at the weekend we're the best we can be.


"The easy thing to do is go into your shell and not try those things but we know that the Crusaders over the many years that have gone by that's part of what they have in their DNA, executing those high-skilled situations well and on a consistent basis and we want this group to be the same," he said.

Jones said three weeks into Super Rugby that it was something he had always appreciated even when not involved.


"You appreciate the intensity of it, the skill acquisition, the speed of it. Clearly having been in the environment and seeing how this group works nothing has changed my view of that.


"What's great for me is that the Crusaders are really clear about the way they want to play the game and training replicates that. I'm excited about continuing playing the way we are but also understanding there will be times when the weather's not so conducive and the opposition are not so conducive and we have to find some answers and play the game a different way," he said.


Halfback Bryn Hall said after the side's loss to the Chiefs they had a brutal review and had taken a lot out of the game to prepare for what they were expecting would be a confident Blues team.


They got the win but had left a lot of things on the park and were still concentrating on their execution.


Hall said he was looking forward to pitting himself against All Black Aaron Smith again. Smith had been around for a long time and was world class.


"Any time you get to play against a guy like that it brings the best out of you. He's a big part of their game. Obviously it's a new group for them but with that experience around it's going to help them a lot come Friday night," he said.


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