Sunday, March 11, 2012

Crusaders cannot rely on Dan Carter's return RICHARD KNOWLER 12/03/2012

If the misfiring Crusaders start touting Dan Carter as their saviour they risk hearing a fiery riposte from coach Todd Blackadder.
With All Blacks first five-eighth Carter due back for the next Super match against the Cheetahs at Christchurch Stadium on March 24, there could be expectations he will reverse the shonky form the Crusaders displayed in their two losses to the Chiefs and Highlanders.
The Crusaders regurgitated a display cluttered with handling errors, wild passes and half-baked option-taking in Friday night's 24-19 loss to the Chiefs in Napier.
Many will, of course, promote 85-test veteran Carter as the crucial component missing from a side yet to rediscover their legendary killer streak.
Just don't go saying that around Blackadder.
"To think the cavalry is arriving and it is all good because Dan is back is not going to work for us," Blackadder said. "Everyone has to do their bit; it would be unfair to put that pressure on one man. He is not the reason we are not playing well."
The bye means the Crusaders, who are also missing injured captain Richie McCaw, must wait an extra week to make amends for their defeats. It also gives Blackadder time to assess whether Carter has fully recovered from the severe injury that ended his World Cup.
When Carter returned to the Crusaders on March 1 he admitted he hadn't kicked a ball since the operation to repair his ruptured groin muscle in early October. Blackadder said Carter had still "not done a great deal" of kicking at trainings.
The Crusaders will train again tomorrow and the coaching staff will discuss whether he will play for the Crusaders Knights development team against Tonga A in their Pacific Cup match at Rugby Park on Thursday.
Carter could be used as a replacement to reintroduce him to the rigours of contact or he could be told to rest for another week and named on the bench as backup to Tyler Bleyendaal for the Cheetahs match. Whatever the permutations, Blackadder reiterated it would be foolhardy to view Carter as the man who can get the Crusaders humming.
He could not have prevented the sort of individual mistakes that led to their demise in Napier.
"We just have to knuckle down and get the simple basics right. He just has to slot back in, do his job and if we can do that it will make it really easy for him."
Carter won't be risked if he isn't fully fit, especially against a struggling Cheetahs side.
Of concern for the Crusaders is that they have scraped back from poor starts to be in a position to overwhelm the Chiefs and Highlanders before making daft errors that have allowed the momentum to swing back in their opponents' favour.
"It is the little things that are hurting us," Blackadder said. "We are a better side than the one that has been playing. It is a mental shift."

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