Crusaders' big guns will fire
Crusaders' big guns will fireSHARE
Dan Carter and Richie McCaw may hog the spotlight, but it is still more about the team for the Crusaders.
When the men from Christchurch face the Chiefs in a Super Rugby semifinal in Hamilton on Saturday the seven-time champion Crusaders will work as a collective to reach the Grand Finale for a sixth time in the last decade.
The Chiefs have their own superstars, the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, but for the Crusaders their big guns can only fire if the team functions properly.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder admitted that Carter and McCaw are crucial to the team, but felt they are part of a much bigger picture.
"I think he has been in the best form that I have seen in the last couple of years … especially in taking the ball to the line," Blackadder said, when asked about the All Black flyhalf's recent form.
"He certainly gets us into the right areas [on the field] and he is executing with the ball," he said of Carter, adding: "[But] all your big guys, you need them to stand up in big game … as they did last week [in the win over the Bulls].
"It is more about a collective approach, more about everyone getting aligned on the same page and play their roles so that Richie [McCaw] and DC [Dan Carter] can get out and do their jobs.
"Then you don't have to worry about leaning on them only."
With Kieran Read still unavailable for selection this week – as he is not fully recovered from the rib injury sustained last time the Crusaders played the Chiefs – McCaw will again feature at No.8.
However, Blackadder feels the veteran All Black captain is comfortable in any role among the loose forwards.
"[His role] is just the same [in the team]," he said of McCaw.
"He is one of those guys that are hugely experience.
"If anything it has been quite good for him [to switch from flank top No.8]. He certainly brings the physical presence and I think he has played really well as a No.8.
"He is naturally a No.7, you can see that, but he has got the physicality.
"What I have seen is his physical presence .. especially on defence. I just feel he has been outstanding."
The Crusaders mentor said he is proud of the entire loose forward trio and the manner in which they are putting their hands up.
He downplayed the absence of Read, suggesting that the team's depth is adequate to cover any injury scenario.
"I only focus on the guys that are healthy," Blackadder said, adding: "You can't worry about guys you don't have, because you don't have them.
"I completely trust, and have faith, in the depth of all the guys.
"Kieran Read is an unbelievable rugby player, there is no doubt about that.
"Would I rather have him in the side? Absolutely!
"Do I have faith in the other guys that they will do the job? Absolutely!
"I just believe the quality of the players we have, they will step up."
By Jan de Koning