Friday, February 24, 2012

Crusaders Friday February 24, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Best Super Performance: Champions (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008) 
2011 Super Rugby: Runners-up (13 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw) 
History: 12th, 6th, 1st, 1st, 1st, 10th, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 4th, 4th, 2nd (1st in conference) 
In: Tom Donnelly, Ben Funnell, Ross Kennedy, Patrick Osborne, Tom Taylor, Luke Whitelock. 
Out: Matt Berquist, Kahn Fotuali'i, David Hall, Chris Jack, Andrew Olorenshaw, Brad Thorn, Sonny Bill Williams.
No team has shown the ability to adapt to the changing game and rise above seemingly impassable challenges (the latest being the devastating Canterbury earthquakes) than the Crusaders. Under-20 World Cup-winning first five Tyler Bleyendaal will get the opportunity to steer the team while Dan Carter's rested; elsewhere, Todd Blackadder has largely kept faith with the players who took that remarkable ride to the final last year. Sonny Bill Williams won't be missed much, with Ryan Crotty and Robbie Fruean set to form an imposing midfield in his absence.
Verdict: Of all the New Zealand teams, the Crusaders are most likely to suffer a post-World Cup hangover but they've shown in previous years the absence of key players in early rounds hasn't been enough to stall their season. Expect another charge toward the final this year where they will be hoping to go one better.
Conference prediction: 1st 
Overall prediction: 1st
Crusaders: Richie McCaw (c), Nick Barrett, Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Tom Donnelly, Andrew Ellis, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Robbie Fruean, Ben Funnell, Zac Guildford, Willi Heinz, Ross Kennedy, Quentin MacDonald, Sean Maitland, Tom Marshall, Patrick Osborne, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Tom Taylor, Matt Todd, Joe Wheeler, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock.

No comments: