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

Rugby: Honest trier says farewell

Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images
Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images

The Crusaders might be the most successful Super Rugby side in history but they haven't won a title with Todd Blackadder as coach.

Todd, of course, is moving on at the end of the season. They have come close, having been beaten finalists in 2011 and 2014, but you'd have to say Blackadder's record as a coach has been average.

I was reflecting on that with a mate over a couple of beers the other night. Todd was the sort of player who never had an outstanding game - but never had a bad one.

Not much has changed as a coach. He's not done a lot wrong.

Some people are able to extract that little bit extra out of people; All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is one. He might even be a better man manager than coach but the calibre of players he's dealing with means he can do that.

Jamie Joseph seems to be another and he put his trust in a group of players and they delivered for him.

I don't think the fact Todd is moving on will have too much effect on the Crusaders. Players are all professionals now and know what they need to do to not only bring success to a franchise but also ensure their future in the game. And the assistant coaches will all be vying for Todd's job.

But I can't see the Crusaders challenging for the title this year, as much as I would love to see them there. They have lost a couple of handy players in Richie McCaw and Dan Carter - and every good team needs quality, seasoned players.

They're also in the competition's toughest conference and it's hard to see them finishing in the top three when you look at the Highlanders, Hurricanes, Chiefs and a resurgent Blues.

The Crusaders bosses will be thinking about who they replace Blackadder with. I can see them going with one of Todd's assistants, perhaps Tabai Matson or Dave Hewett, but I'd rather see them entice one of the top Kiwi coaches overseas to come home.

I realise money is an issue, and someone like Warren Gatland would probably need to coach the All Blacks for 10 years to make as much as he does with Wales in one, but it would be good see one of them back here if they are serious about taking over the All Blacks one day. There's also the Highlanders vacancy.

I think it's important to have a head coach with nous and experience, not one who will learn on the job.

Canterbury and the Crusaders, though, are more likely to appoint a New Zealand-based coach, and one from the region. They are, let's say, a little incestuous. Blackadder is a Canterbury man and so are his assistants Matson, Hewett and Angus Gardiner. New Zealand under-20s coach Scott Robertson might be another contender, and he also calls Christchurch home.

- Herald on Sunday

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