Crusaders coaching pair to bring up 100 games

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The semifinal will be the 100th Crusaders' game for the coaching pair of head coach Scott Robertson and forwards' coach Jason Ryan.

 

Assistant coach Andrew Goodman said it was something neither was likely to mention during the week with all the emphasis on the Friday game.

 

But Goodman said he had 'so much respect' for the pair since Robertson had given him his coaching opportunity with the side five years ago.

 

"Over the last few years, they've become really good friends. We've got an awesome work environment here…but there's a lot of good social times outside of work as well," he said.

 

However, the side knows they will go into the game without the services of loose forward Ethan Blackadder, who left the field during the quarterfinal win over the Reds with a shoulder injury.

 

Goodman said the full extent of Blackadder's injury would be known after he had more scans. But he was out of action for what remains of the Super Rugby season, and there was a question mark over his participation in next month's All Blacks series against Ireland.

"Everyone's hoping there's some good news around that, but we'll just have to wait and see," he said.

 

"We're gutted he hasn't got the chance to finish the season off with us. He's been an integral part [of the campaign].

 

"We all know how hard he works, he's a great team man, and always bringing a laugh to the boys," he said.

 

His absence will be felt in the breakdown contest, something they know will be an area they can expect a challenge from the Chiefs after their games earlier in the season.

 

They also kicked well through halfback Brad Weber and first five-eighths Bryn Gatland and they backed that with powerful ball carriers.

 

"Our physicality will have to be right on," he said.

 

Tom Christie and Corey Kellow will contest the openside role.

 

"Tom was one of our form players through the start of the season, and he'll be pretty excited by a potential opportunity to get another run out there in the seven jersey.

 

"The same with Corey, he's really taken his opportunities in that seven jumper when he's had the chance as well," Goodman said.

 

There was good news with lock Quinten Strange back in the selection mix after his recovery from a calf muscle issue.

 

"Anyone that's been out that long comes back with a bit of edge, especially those locks, they are pretty niggly around the training field. The boys have felt his presence over the past two week on the training field and it's great he's available," he said.

 

While Goodman was delighted for the form his Tasman NPC midfielder Alex Nankivell has had with the Chiefs, he and partner Quinn Tupaea had been performing well on both sides of the ball and were key contributors they would need to counter on Friday.

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