Crusaders looking for impressive start

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Thursday, March 17, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Coach Todd Blackadder's side go into the game as heavy favourites against the lowest-ranked side in South Africa, but they couldn't afford to discount their threat.
Blackadder said the Crusaders were not looking at the Kings as five automatic points.

"We've had a few banana skins over the years so we've just been preparing as we normally would and this week has been focused on making sure that this team which has set really high standards for themselves that we achieve them and we really want to play well.

"One thing I do know about South African teams is they always play their best in the first game on tour so we are expecting them to come out of the blocks. They played their best game the last time they were here so we're not taking anything for granted," he said.

The nine changes in the side were to give players who hadn't had many, if any, chances so far this year to shake up the side and create some competition.

Midfield back Ryan Crotty was being managed back into play and it was decided to bring him off the bench in his first game back from injury.
Much of the preparation for the game had been player led, he said, and there was a desire to get their defence right and to take pride in that.

The 'banana skin' factor came into play when teams got ahead of themselves and started thinking about bonus points. That sort of thinking was never the case, Blackadder said.

The Kings had been in contact with opponents at the halfway stages of games, and like all South African teams they were willing, they were abrasive and, once they got over the advantage line, they could be a handful.

"If we don't play disciplined rugby, stick to our systems or even front up, any team can be a handful and this week it is more about us and making sure that we play with real intensity and accuracy and don't give them a chance to play rugby," he said. 

Fiji star Ben Volavola is a late call up to fullback for the late withdrawl of Marty McKenzie and will provide another attacking option from the back for the Crusaders.