Crusaders to hit the road running
Crusaders to hit the road runningSHARE
The Crusaders will have to hit the road running if they are to add to their seven Super Rugby championship titles.
Assistant coach Tabai Matson, speaking ahead of their semifinal trip to Hamilton for an encounter with the defending champion Chiefs, believes now is the time for players to create their own legacy.
The Crusaders will need to change a recent trend in Super Rugby play-offs.
While they're the most successful team in competition history, they haven't won the title since 2008 – despite making the semifinals or better every year since.
Matson said a legacy is built on how a team performs over the last few weeks of the competition.
"For this group they are really fired up meeting the Chiefs – a team that's had the better of us in the last couple of years – and we want to be firing some shots," said Matson.
The Crusaders are confident they can win in Hamilton this week and then go all the way – whether they travel to Pretoria to meet the Bulls or Canberra for an encounter with the Brumbies.
"We are going to have to win it at someone's else's venue," said All Black flyhalf Dan Carter.
"It will be away from home for us now but we are building some momentum at the right time of the season.
"After the June Test window we've bounced back really well and connected well as a team. In knock-out footy anything can happen but we live to fight another week, which is exciting."
Now, the bigger worry for coach Todd Blackadder is the mental, not physical, capacity of his squad.
He knows his side can play, have so much to offer but it will come out in the semifinal only if they retain their hunger, that mental edge to dominate and deliver their best.
They have been inconsistent in that respect for much of the campaign – rarely backing up big performances. But he, like his senior players, believes they have turned that particular corner as well.
"We've had our highs and lows this season, and at times we haven't fired," he said, adding: "But the commitment is there and everyone has got their heads in the right place."
Blackadder felt there was plenty more to come from his team.
"It wasn't quite as physical or intense as what we were expecting it to be," he said of the 38-9 win over the Reds.
"In the changing rooms the guys looked really good and fresh."
He agreed his forwards provided the platform for the four-tries-to-nil win, but added: "There's plenty more in the tank too."
Sources: 3 News & Newstalk ZB