Super Rugby
Crusaders have lost respect: Todd Blackadder
Sam Bruce
March 13, 2015
The Crusaders have barely fired a shot so far this season © Getty Images

Super Rugby enters its fifth round this weekend but it may just prove to be the first time we see the real Crusaders after coach Todd Blackadder handed down a stinging self-assessment.

"Teams don't respect us," Blackadder said after training on Thursday.

It's an acknowledgment that will likely surprise those who rate the seven-time champions as the perennial competition benchmark despite the lack of a title since 2008. But having watched his side register a far from convincing 1-2 start to the season, it's obviously a tag Blackadder believes is warranted.

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"That's why they feel they can take us on around the ruck, through the middle or through the edges," Blackadder continued. "At lot of that is to do with outright character and attitude. Our guys have to work harder for each other but I am pretty confident from what I have seen this week that we can turn this around rather quickly."

Adding to Blackadder's confidence is the fact that no less than four first-choice All Blacks are returning to his side for Saturday night's clash with the Lions, as is Fijian powerhouse and last year's equal-leading try-scorer Nemani Nadolo.

The selection news is not as flash for Blackadder's coaching counterpart Sir John Kirwan and the winless Blues who face the daunting task of halting the rising Hurricanes juggernaut in Palmerston North on Friday night.

Asked to comment on the plight of his rival, Blackadder said: "I know myself, I've been there quite a few times. When your team's not performing you've got to put your hand up and take responsibility for that, and I think that's first thing you've got to do.

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"But also, too, you've got to take the pressure off the team; you've really got to believe in what you're doing and even like last week, for me, we stripped everything right back and we're not happy with everything where we're at either. I know that we haven't been performing and our supporters, our sponsors, aren't happy either.

"So I had a good look at myself to make sure we're putting the right things in place so we can start delivering."

Blackadder's side have an excellent chance to "deliver" against perennial struggles, the Lions, in Christchurch on Saturday night. The real Crusaders - the side synonymous with words like respect, attitude and character - might just be about to stand up.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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