33 Todd Blackadder [1998-2001] CAPS 12
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.