Super Rugby
Crusaders to ditch percentages for adventure
February 19, 2013
Dan Carter of the Crusaders runs with the ball during the Super Rugby trial match against the Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, February 14, 2013
Dan Carter is key to the Crusaders' attacking intentions and expansive game plan © Getty Images

The Crusaders want to adopt a more expansive approach, and shake the "clinical" tag, as they bid to win an eighth Super Rugby crown.

The team conducted an exhaustive off-season review - the sort of review that might normally be conducted by a team that finished near the bottom of the ladder - and discovered the need to veer from their traditional percentage approach.

Todd Blackadder, the Crusaders coach, said no stone was left unturned after they were defeated by the Chiefs in the semi-finals, the fourth successive season they have reached the play-offs but failed to add to a bulging trophy cabinet.

"What you're going to see this year is a total rebranding of the way the Crusaders are going to play," Blackadder said.

"We've looked at where we've been in the past, we've looked at best practice from our competitors, and we're going to raise the bar. You're going to see an attacking style of football this year, we're going to attack."

The Crusaders field a pack good enough to make such a game plan possible, even without resting skipper Richie McCaw, who won't rejoin the red-and-black until July at the earliest.

All Blacks great Dan Carter will be pivotal to sparking an attacking style, and while fullback Israel Dagg will be heavily involved.

The franchise has also made noises about restoring winger Zac Guildford, who has stood down to seek treatment and advice after an alcohol-fuelled pre-season incident.

Three of the four Whitelock brothers are in a hard-nosed pack laden with All Blacks and youngsters who were at the heart of Canterbury's record fifth successive NPC title in 2012.

No.8 Kieran Read, who will lead the Crusaders in McCaw's absence, and probably also the All Blacks against France in June, says the title "drought" has stung the franchise into action.

"The organisation wants to be successful, and that's what we measure ourselves on, it's championships," he said.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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