The form of the Crusaders is good news for the franchise, not least of all aspiring coaches Dave Hewitt and Tabai Matson.

With Todd Blackadder moving on at the end of the season - he's doing his future job prospects no harm, either, with the way the team are playing - the Crusaders are on the lookout for a new head coach.

All manner of people have put their hand up, including former England coach Stuart Lancaster, but it's hard to see them going beyond Hewitt and/or Matson.

New Zealand rugby is parochial, loyal, and Canterbury and the Crusaders epitomise that. Hell, Colin Cooper and Vern Cotter are the only 'outsiders' who have held coaching jobs in Crusaders history when they were assistants to Robbie Deans so they traditionally go for one of their own.


An appointment now seems imminent, after earlier saying they wouldn't announce a successor until the end of the season. There's nothing like the threat of a Hewitt or Matson driving further south and taking over at the Highlanders, where there's also a vacancy, to spark an organisation into action.

I think either Hewitt or Matson would do a good job as Crusaders head coach, and they would be immensely strong as co-coaches, but if they plump for one then I would go for Hewitt. He seems an astute businessman who would do a good job as the front man.

Scott Robertson, Rob Penney and Leon MacDonald are other options but Robertson lacks experience in Super Rugby and I would simply choose Hewitt and Matson over the others.

It's amazing what results can do because if the Crusaders continued to underachieve, like they did last year, I would have favoured the franchise clearing the decks and starting over. Lancaster is most definitely not the answer. I'm a great believer we don't need a tramp stamp on top of our flag and I don't think there's any place for Lancaster to be coaching at a top level in this country.

Maybe he should see if he can sort out the Warriors instead.

New Zealand Rugby favour promoting New Zealand talent to ensure a pathway for top talent, and technically hold the contracts for coaches and players, so it would be an intriguing showdown if a franchise owner wanted a foreign coach. But I don't think it will eventuate this year, and certainly not at the Crusaders who are incredibly parochial.

The Highlanders are also likely to take the least disruptive route in their coach appointment and that could see Colin Cooper taking over from Jamie Joseph, allowing Tony Brown and Scott McLeod to continue as assistant coaches.

Cooper would be a like-for-like replacement for Joseph because they are similar coaches and he also has a proven track record at Super Rugby level.