Super Rugby
Crusaders giving Rebels due respect
March 12, 2014
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder stands alongside Richie McCaw, Crusaders v Reds, Super Rugby, AMI Park, Christchurch, New Zealand, July 20, 2013
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is wary of the Melbourne Rebels © Getty Images

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder admits his team may have underestimated the Melbourne Rebels in their two Super Rugby meetings.

The Rebels scored a 28-19 upset in 2012; a result that prevented the Crusaders topping the New Zealand Conference, and the Australian team was unlucky to lose by four points last year after teaching the Crusaders a lesson at the breakdowns.

"We have a lot of respect for them and in the past that's one area that has let us down," Blackadder said on Thursday. "Maybe we've gone in with a mindset where we haven't respected them as much as we should have and we've come second. We've talked about it."

Both teams have racked up one win this season ahead of their meeting in Melbourne on Friday night. The Crusaders got their win last weekend, squeezing past the Stormers 14-13, but the Rebels are backing up from a 32-7 defeat to the Western Force. Despite that loss, Blackadder said the Rebels led the statistics in a lot of key areas and were the No.1 side for retaining possession.

"They keep the ball and play a lot," he said. "We will have to be more clinical but I think we passed a psychological hurdle last week. We really need to express ourselves this week and bring accuracy with physicality."

An eye injury to veteran hooker Corey Flynn means Ben Funnell comes in as the only change to the forward pack. Andy Ellis replaces an injured Willi Heinz at halfback and Nafi Tuitavake returns to the wing after recovering from a hamstring strain, with Israel Dagg moving to his preferred fullback position.

Centre Rey Lee-Lo has been dropped with Colin Slade going from fullback to five-eighth and Tom Taylor and Ryan Crotty moving out a position.


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