Thursday, May 20, 2010


There will be a pleasing sight for Crusaders fans who tune in to watch their team's match against the Bulls on Sunday morning.
The Crusaders will forgo their silver away playing strip for their traditional red and black for the semifinal, and if they get that far, the final the following weekend.
Although Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder reckoned his players had few quibbles playing in silver, supporters with a superstitious bent will be delighted to see it ditched for the sudden-death fixture after teams were given the option of doing so at a recent Sanzar meeting.
The Crusaders lost all three of their touring matches in South Africa and Perth while performing in the alternative strip.

"I think they have adjusted to them and they actually quite like them," Blackadder noted. "We will be in the red and black jerseys because there is no conflict [in colour]."
Blackadder also confirmed he would not tinker with the starting XV that beat the Brumbies 40-22 at AMI Stadium last weekend.
"No, everyone is fit at the moment so we won't be looking to change much."

When the Crusaders lost 40-35 to the Bulls in their penultimate round-robin match, they surprised them by moving the ball from deep inside their own half and taking quick penalty taps to avoid giving Victor Matfield the chance to plunder their lineout throws.

"There will be some wee critiques," Blackadder stated. "But I can't see the Bulls changing too much, either. They have got a formula that works and I don't think we will go too far away from the game plan we have been using either."

Blackadder was reluctant to pick a winner in the other semifinal between the Stormers and Waratahs in Cape Town, but if the Australians and New Zealanders win their respective matches they face another long haul across the Indian Ocean for the final in Sydney.

When the Crusaders arrived in Johannesburg from Sydney yesterday morning their bus was escorted to their hotel by a couple of police cars.

There was also a pleasant surprise awaiting the squad when they arrived at their upmarket digs – all paid for by Sanzar – which would set back anyone travelling on their own around $250 a night.

Labelled Montecasino, the massive Italian-styled complex houses a string of hotels, casinos, restaurants and theatres. No doubt the hordes of tourists will flock there for next month's football World Cup. Usually the Crusaders stay in the nearby suburb of Sandton, a business and shopping mall precinct, but that was already full.

Speak to most visiting Super 14 players after they have visited Johannesburg and they confirm they rarely see outside their hotels and going out after dark is forbidden.
Soweto's Orlando Stadium, the venue for the semifinal, is a sellout with all 40,000 seats sold.

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