Crusaders expect pressure from the outset

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The chance to finally get some meaningful play two weeks out from the start of the competition for 2020 had energised the younger players in his group especially and it was a chance for them to express themselves, he said.


"We're only two weeks away so the boys are playing for positions and they will enjoy it," he said.


At the same time he was also conscious of the potential for injuries to occur and he tended to worry about the injury situation before looking at the scoreboard after the game.


Robertson said it had taken a couple of weeks to get over the disappointment of missing out on the All Blacks coaching job. He had reflected on why he missed out.


"I focused a little bit more on the future and what it meant for me, how I could get better and looking at opportunities ahead and got excited about the Crusaders' season and the next few years," he said.



Throughout the process Robertson said he was always aware that he already had a great job with the Crusaders. He felt confident he could have inspired the All Blacks and the nation by bringing a new generation of players through but said he would get a chance another time.


He said the shorter preparation time this year meant they had to be smarter in how they got the information to players while also getting them set to play a game of rugby.


It wasn't too difficult for the Crusaders because 90 percent of the players had been in their environment before.


"We're just recapping what we've done and how we're going to grow and evolve and add and get better," he said.


Added to that was the All Blacks who had returned with a few points to prove themselves in terms of playing well.




Across the squad they had presented themselves well physically and a lot of personal bests had been recorded during preparation while skin tests and other measures had also been impressive, he said.


"We've got a group that's got a great opportunity to do something special," he said.


Robertson said Manasa Mataele had returned in good shape and the work he had put in after suffering his knee injury had been impressive.


Mataele said the extensive period of rehabilitation had been good for him.


"I've learnt more about myself, about how I could push myself individually without anyone else being there for me. I've learnt to take advice from a few of the other boys, a few of the older guys," he said.


Tim Bateman and Israel Dagg had been especially helpful and he said it had been good to talk with them away from training about how he could get better.


He said the knee was feeling strong and he had been training fully on it since December.


The All Blacks in the team would not appear before the first round of Super Rugby with the usual requirement that they have 60 minutes of rest in the first three weeks.

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