33 Todd Black­ad­der [1998-2001] CAPS 12

NZ Rugby World - - Green Tea Party -

Todd Black­ad­der was all about hard work. Few, if any, had a bet­ter work ethic than Black­ad­der and few, if any, were as grounded and as hum­ble.

Black­ad­der would be the first to ad­mit that he wasn’t a nat­u­ral tal­ent as such. He wasn’t quite big enough for lock, not quick enough or ag­ile enough for blind­side, but some­how he brought so much starch, grunt and com­mit­ment to the field that coaches only knew they wanted him on the field and didn’t fret too much about the jer­sey he wore.

What they knew is that Black­ad­der would bring a will­ing­ness to put his body on the line, would be a clear, thought­ful leader and an in­spi­ra­tion to those around him.

Black­ad­der sim­ply had pres­ence – a grav­i­tas that ex­tended well o the field as he was one of the first pro­fes­sion­als to re­alise the need to con­nect with the wider com­mu­nity and give back.

He cer­tainly in­spired a young Richie McCaw. “When I was a young player and first started in the pro­vin­cial game our cap­tain [Black­ad­der] taught me some­thing pretty im­por­tant,” McCaw said in 2013 af­ter the All Blacks had pulled o the great­est es­cape against Ire­land.

“We were down by a sim­i­lar mar­gin, 29 to very lit­tle. I thought the game was over and he said ‘be­lieve’, and we got home in that game.

“Since then I’ve never, ever given up, and al­ways been proud of All Blacks teams, that no mat­ter whether you’re be­hind, seem­ingly out of the game, you never stop be­liev­ing there’s a chance.”

Black­ad­der would go on to have a huge in­flu­ence on more young play­ers as coach of the Cru­saders be­tween 2009 and 2016.

HARD TOIL Todd Black­ad­der taught plenty of play­ers about work ethic.

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