Mon 21 Apr 2014 | 09:55
Slade sees life in the 'Saders
Mon 21 Apr 2014 | 09:55
Slade sees life in the 'SadersSHARE
After their 29-26 defeat to the Hurricanes, Slade wasn't convinced the Crusaders had it in them to win all their away games.
The Crusaders pivot thought that it would be a tough ask fro them to break out of their loosing slump.
"Probably not, if I am being brutal," Slade said as he cast his mind back to when his side held a shaky 2-3 record.
"You never really know until you have been in that situation as a team – and now we know we can win games. It's very pleasing. The boys are feeling a lot more confident and rightly so."
How quickly things have changed.
Three consecutive wins, Saturday's 18-17 morale boosting victory over the Chiefs the latest, have deleted the self doubts that threatened to toss the Crusaders season under a bus.
"When we first arrived in Africa we locked ourselves in a room and asked a few questions of ourselves, we have certainly found a tougher edge in these tighter games," Slade added.
That discussion forced the players to address their habit of breaking their pre-match pledges to stick to their strategies and ask why they were making so many silly errors.
"We needed to be more disciplined in our execution on attack, not do things out of the game plan. We also had to be tougher on defence, work harder to help the boys out. That's what it's all about."
The pulsating win over the Chiefs could prove the defining moment of the Crusaders' season.
Where teams viewed them as a vulnerable outfit, especially in the absence of Dan Carter, they are now likely to meet a side with a layer of armour plating around their underbelly.
flyhalf Slade, who kicked six penalties against the Chiefs and contributed 25 points in the 52-31 victory over the Cheetahs a week earlier, is proving his value.
Despite luring Slade away from the Highlanders coach Todd Blackadder refused to guarantee him a No.10 jersey ahead of Tom Taylor and Tyler Bleyendaal.
Blackadder must now be considering Slade his buy of the off-season.
Slade, however, was mortified that two of kicks – one a sitter – struck the uprights and ricocheted back into the field of play at Waikato Stadium.
"Jeez, that's four in three weeks. They're killing my percentages.
"It's never nice missing, one I hit a bit averagely but the other one I struck well. But I'm enjoying kicking at the moment which is a positive sign."
With Carter unavailable and Aaron Cruden nursing a broken thumb, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will also be taking interest in Slade's performances ahead of the June series against England.
Slade swerved that subject.
"That's not a big drive for me at the moment," he said. "When I arrived in this team I had a fight for the No 10 jersey. I'm just trying to keep it and get my career back on track so to speak."