CRU­SADERS

NZ Rugby World - - Super Rugby 2018 -

RE­CRUIT­MENT BAL­ANCE

There has been a bit of move­ment in the squad but to be hon­est, most of it is win­dow dress­ing. The Cru­saders haven’t lost any front-line troops – no key men have moved on and the traf­fic has flowed on the fringes.

And they have prob­a­bly come out well on that as tak­ing Tom San­ders from the Chiefs was a smart play and Mike De­lany is an ex­pe­ri­enced, canny op­er­a­tor at No 10. There is also the wild­card fac­tor of hav­ing re­cruited for­mer Ir­ish first-five Ro­nan O’Gara as an as­sis­tant coach.

WHAT CAN WE EX­PECT TAC­TI­CALLY?

They are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons so it is un­likely they will have spent the sum­mer over­haul­ing their game­plan. There will be ad­just­ments and tweaks for sure but es­sen­tially the Cru­saders will use their pow­er­ful pack to grind op­po­nents and then look to cre­ate space for the likes of Seta Ta­mani­valu and Is­rael Dagg to ex­ploit. It worked pretty well for them last year.

GUT FEEL – RISERS OR FALL­ERS?

As de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons it may seem like they have only one way to travel – down. But not so. The Cru­saders were great last year but we feel they could be bet­ter again in 2018.

They will be tak­ing back the re­ju­ve­nated Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Dagg and the likes of Codie Tay­lor, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Good­hue and Ta­mani­valu will be all the bet­ter for their All Blacks ex­pe­ri­ences.

WHERE WILL THEY FIN­ISH?

These guys are go­ing to be hard to beat any­where and es­pe­cially so in Christchurch. They will be right in the mix.

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