Crusaders welcome extra week off before Semis

Todd Blackadder will step aside after the 2016 Super Rugby season

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has welcomed having an extra week off to prepare for his team’s Super Rugby Semi-final clash at home in Christchurch.

The Crusaders finished the regular season in second place which guarantees them extra week while the Sharks, Brumbies, Chiefs and Highlanders battle it out.

How Blackadder manages the players over the next two weeks will be crucial as they look to reach their first final since 2011.

The extra week will give Richie McCaw time to ensure that his fractured rib is healed fully and while players such as Nemani Nadolo, Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty will get extra time to refresh.

However the week break also means that the Crusaders could lose their edge while the other teams play this week.

When asked whether he was worried about the players going off the boil Blackadder said, “Not at all, we have no concerns.”

“The guys have played a lot of football and how we manage this week is going to be very important. Some guys are going to freshen-up and we are going to focus on some areas of our game we need to improve on.”

Tryscorer against the Highlanders Nadolo has had a heavy workload in recent weeks and did not have the same zip in his game last week as he did against the Blues so he was replaced with a complaint of a tight calf.

Blackadder said that replacing Nadolo was a precautionary move

“Nemani will have a few days off, he needs a well deserved break. He has played a lot of minutes, for us and Fiji, and needs to freshen, ” Blackadder told The Press.

“The big fellow has been a bit fatigued for the last couple of weeks and we just want to make sure he is well managed.”

The coach said that he would try to ensure that the players don’t lose their match fitness by staging heaviest training sessions later in the week.

The Crusaders beat the Highlanders 34-8 at AMI Stadium on Saturday and the forwards led the way in the set piece and scored three tries from driving mauls.

The victory ensured that they secured the four-try bonus point which put pressure on the Sharks to perform.

Blackadder said that he has no preferences as to who they will play in Christchurch in the Semi-final and that they will resist the temptation to prepare specifically for a potential opponents and rather focus on each team before the weekend.

“Mentally, for this week, it’s important we get our own house in order rather than focus on all the possibilities.

“It’s a long time between now and then. We need to make sure all our individuals get what they need and what they need to focus on. There’s no need to start preparing for who we may be meeting just yet.”

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