Crusaders wary of Force lineout threat

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Coming off an upset loss to the Waratahs, Crusaders' coach Scott Robertson said there was no doubt the Crusaders had to be better in some areas, and their starts were one of those concerns.


"We're certainly not at peak form. We've got a few things to produce to get right, and we believe we'll be where we need to be," he said.


Robertson said lineout issues resulted from the Waratahs making good reads of Crusaders' intentions, especially in the 22m area, and the Crusaders could have been smarter with their calls.


One of the differences with Australian teams was they set up a little differently and could trap sides which happened to the Crusaders.


They would learn from that, he said.


"They change their calls late, so your calling has to be right on and you have to adapt," he said.


Lock Sam Whitelock said the Force lineout combination of Wallaby Izack Rodda and former Hurricanes player Jeremy Thrush worked well. Their system was good enough to lead the competition in lineout steals.


"It's something that we're aware of, but we have to ensure we nail our skillset first. It sounds simple, but as long as we do this, we will be fine, so [it is about] worrying about our throw, our jump, our lift and my call.

"If we can do that hopefully we can nullify their strength," he said.


Robertson said the Crusaders were struggling to field consistent selections throughout the season because of how things had fallen for them this year.


So many uncontrollables, like Covid, injuries, suspensions and All Blacks rest requirements, meaning they have had to use more players than at any other time.


It was his job, and that of his coaches, to get the best side out on the field week after week with the right mindset, and last week they hadn't achieved that.


The Waratahs' loss had been one of their worst performances in his six seasons with the side. And the Force would look to capitalise on that.


"The Force are tough, they're physical, they've got a clear way they play. It's a simple style of footy but they are very effective at it, and they're tough," he said.


Robertson said there was a different spirit among the Australian sides, and they also had more depth in their squads and were better defensively.


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