Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Toddy's charges could do with a good dose of flair


The Crusaders haven't had the start they wanted but I wouldn't be too worried about their longer term prospects. Not yet, anyway.

Their problems are fixable - mostly. My advice for them would be to loosen up and remember they play this game for enjoyment. If they can throw off the shackles and play with expression and flair - as they can - then they should start to combine better as a unit.

Their problems have been about individual execution and attention to detail. Every player has a job and so far, too many haven't done what they are on the field to do. In the first game, it was goal-kicking and against the Blues, basic skills such as tackling, handling and communication let them down.

They conceded a try straight from a kick-off, something a team of 11-year-olds would feel bad about. Tevita Li didn't appear to have to work overly hard to break those tackles.

Then the try just after halftime was so soft, it wasn't funny.

Todd Blackadder was a solid player in his day - a workaholic who didn't do anything fancy and I think that is how he is trying to coach his team.

He wants them to work hard, nail the basics, do their core roles and apply the pressure by not making many mistakes.

Assistant coaches Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger were largely similar as players - they too were about doing the basics well.

The Crusaders aren't chiming well because of individual errors. They are fit, motivated and have more than enough good personnel and ability. It shouldn't be a problem to fix those mistakes.

But my one area of concern is in their backs. They have a lot of good, solid players. They have two solid halfbacks; a solid performer in Tom Taylor. Ryan Crotty is another who is a good, solid player.

Israel Dagg has flair but how are they going to use him and get him better involved so his skills are used? I think they are missing, dare I say it, a player such as Robbie Fruean. They need some punch, direct running and line-breaking threat and it's hard to see from where that is going to come.

With Sonny Bill Williams, the Crusaders knew they just had to have support runners and he'd get his big arm through and offload.

Now, they don't have anyone who can get through those holes and take them over the gainline. They will have to work with what they have, support the ball carriers better at various depths and try to be less rigid when they are in possession.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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