Friday, January 27, 2012

Crusaders look to play during June test window

With the Australian sides looking to organise matches while the Investec Super Rugby season takes a rare bye, with the World Champion All Blacks hosting Ireland during June, the kiwi teams are looking themselves to 'plug the gap'.

It was reported that Super Rugby franchises across SANZAR could play matches while the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies assemble, and the Crusaders are already looking to get some game time during this period.

The Crusaders play the Highlanders on June 1 (round 15) before the ‘June window’ and then play another New Zealand Conference match at the end of the month against the Hurricanes on June 29.

While Australian media reported the possibility of the Waratahs, Brumbies and Force playing Scotland, Wales and a South African provincial team respectively – Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder told Fairfax media the idea had been brewing with kiwi coaches for a while.

“I know at the franchise meetings, a lot of the other coaches were thinking on similar lines," he said.

The break will affect the Blues the most, with the three-time champions taking a round 16 bye as most other teams resume action.

Blackadder is in a similar conundrum considering that the Crusaders are currently the premier supplier of All Blacks in the country, with 12 players featuring with the World Cup squad last year.

Playing Ireland has all but been ruled out with the IRFU saying they would decline the opportunity to take part in midweek matches.

Glamour matches against Japanese sides are an option, but there is also the likelihood that a mini-series between the New Zealand Conference teams sans their All Blacks could occur – while some provinces may opt for action to warm up for the ITM Cup and Heartland campaigns.

"We've got a toe in the water to some Japanese sides but it's not looking likely so hopefully we can get a game against another (New Zealand) franchise,” Blackadder said.

“The aim was to give the non-All Blacks game-time and get them up to speed so we can best plan for when the All Blacks return. If (test players) pick up any injuries or niggles or if they're just really tired, we've had some (hit outs) for the players who will be available for that next game."

No comments: