The gamers the Crusaders should axe to save lots of their season

The Crusaders third straight loss to start out the season has confirmed that the dynasty is properly and really over. It’s clear the Mo’unga magic is gone, Razor’s vitality has left the constructing. The rising pains with a youthful facet are there to see.

Shedding to the Drua at dwelling just isn’t a shameful defeat. They’ve confirmed to be a power at dwelling towards all of the New Zealand sides and the bookies had unfairly written them off and put an excessive amount of religion into the Crusaders’ status.

However with the facet now 0-3 they should save their season subsequent week towards the undefeated Hurricanes of their first dwelling recreation of the yr. Robust choices should be made to reverse course and win now, which requires some huge personnel adjustments.

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Super Rugby Pacific



Willi Heinz

Having a 37-year-old halfback really showed in Luatoka. Veteran Willi Heinz is too slow to play Super Rugby Pacific, and after being capped by England is really of no benefit to the All Blacks.

In the early stages of the first half Cullen Grace chased down Drua fulback Ilaisa Droasese, forcing a bad pass and a net loss of 20 plus metres. Dom Gardiner secured the loose ball giving the Crusaders prime front foot ball in transition.

Heinz was nowhere to be seen to recycle that ball quickly. Prop George Bower had to play halfback instead, and passed directly to the No 9 trying to get to the ruck.

The shambolic passage saw Heinz drop the ball backwards unexpectedly and the Crusaders then lost possession when Taha Kemara coughed up the pill in contact.

Great teams strike in those windows of opportunities and the Crusaders could barely string two passes together, lost 15 metres and turned the ball over.

With Heinz ancient legs getting around the park combined with a snail mail pass, it’s hard to see how they can get better at that.

Here’s the killer stat: Nearly a third (28 per cent) of the Crusaders rucks took six seconds or longer to recycle. At this level that is like super slow motion.

Mitchell Drummond should be starting if Noah Hotham is not. Hotham is still developing but Drummond can bring the tempo and accuracy needed at this level.

George Bell

Hooker George Bell’s throwing is currently a chronic liability despite his reliable work rate and effort around the park.

He was picked off multiple times against the Waratahs and could not find his targets against the Drua. The lineout operated at 64 per cent in Fiji which is well below the required standard in Super Rugby.

Bell is a burly, mobile rake with lots to like, but if you can’t throw, you’ve got to go. The Crusaders need Codie Taylor back as soon as possible to stabilise the most important set-piece.

Taha Kemara

It’s rough on the young No 10 with so much on his shoulders early in the season. Last year’s New Zealand U20 first five wasn’t expected to be starting but Fergus Burke is still sidelined and Rivez Reihana is out with the knock.

Kemara’s execution has not been there. Passes hit the ground when giving and receiving, kicks do not find touch, kicks go out on the full, it’s been a display of unforced errors.

It doesn’t help when your second five isn’t taking the pressure off either, David Havili has been equally poor and haphazard. There is limited chemistry between 10-12-13.

Reihana, whilst not perfect in round one, needs to relieve Kemara of his duties. The 20-year-old needs to stay confident, hard work and be ready for his next shot.

He’s not ready for Super Rugby right now and what’s apparent is the Crusaders aren’t ready for him.

Thrusting a 20-year-old No 10 into a side with this many issues is a recipe for disaster. If the Crusaders keep starting him in this disorganised mess they will only ruin his confidence.

David Havili

The rested bunch of All Blacks don’t look fully up to it right now, which is a problem for the Crusaders because they need their stars to be leading the way. Havili has been the opposite.

He had three turnovers against the Waratahs, the most in the team, a charged down exit kick that gave away seven points, and two running metres from seven carries.

Against the Drua he had two more turnovers and his defensive channels against were like swiss cheese with a lack of communication outside and inside him leading to multiple line breaks for the Fijians.

They don’t have any other fit fullbacks so Chay Fihaki cannot be moved into the midfield, but Ryan Crotty can bring stability and accuracy to the position as an experienced All Black. Dallas McLeod is also more than capable. Levi Aumua can be moved into 12 to simplify the Crusaders game.

A left-field solution is to move David Havili back to fullback, a position he knows well after many seasons at No 15 in the early years of the Robertson dynasty.

There are plenty of options but they have got to get Havili out of the 12 jersey.

Player Turnovers Lost


Selestino Ravutaumada



Chay Fihaki



Dom Gardiner


Dom Gardiner

The 22-year-old has impressed in spurts, but also has not been error-free. He was handed a yellow card against the Waratahs and turned the ball over often against the Drua. This would be a tactical change as someone has to make way for Ethan Blackadder.

The Crusaders desperately need Blackadder back who will bring more gain line carry than Cullen Grace at No 8. The physicality Blackadder has is something none of their current forwards bar Barrett can bring. The meek Crusaders pack needs some more explosive power.

Grace has been one of the best players, but he can move to blindside meaning Gardiner gets the chop from the starting side.

The good

It’s not all doom and gloom in Crusader-land. There have been some shining lights despite the poor results.

Scott Barrett is obviously world-class. Jamie Hannah has been a revelation as an impact player off the bench. Quinten Strange started showing some decent form on the trip to Fiji.

Sevu Reece has been sensational and has been almost a one-man-band coming back from injury. He scored two against the Waratahs and another in Fiji with a strike play that needed Reece to pretty much do it all.

Levi Aumua has been good the last two weeks after the Crusaders didn’t get him the ball in round one. Macca Springer looks to have elite level speed on the edge while adding size to his frame.

There is enough there to turn around the ship and get the season back on track.

However, the competition has been waiting seven years for this opportunity, and particularly the four other New Zealand teams.

If the Crusaders don’t take drastic action the Hurricanes will take full advantage and feast on the carcass of the dead dynasty next weekend in Christchurch.

No favours will be given and no mercy will be shown.

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