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Crusaders boss Scott Robertson hires new assistant coach after recent departures

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has acted quickly shortly after the departures of two of his assistants in recent weeks.

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Having lost Andrew Goodman to Irish powerhouse Leinster last month, Robertson has replaced him by signing Tasman assistant coach James Marshall for next season’s Super Rugby Pacific.

The acquisition of Marshall comes just days after Robertson also lost his main right-hand man Jason Ryan to the All Blacks following a coaching reshuffle within the New Zealand national side.

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While Ryan’s void is yet to be filled, the arrival of Marshall brings with it a sense of certainty as the Crusaders target a seventh consecutive title next year.

Just 33-years-old, Marshall is set to enter his third domestic campaign with Tasman after injuries brought an end to his playing career two years ago.

Since then, he has also helped as an assistant coach at the Hurricanes, the Wellington-based Super Rugby Pacific franchise be made more than 50 appearances for across two stints between 2013 and 2020.

The 2016 Super Rugby title-winning fullback also represented Tasman and Taranaki at provincial level, winning an NPC title with the latter side in 2014.

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Spells in England, Italy and Japan saw Marshall also turn out for London Irish, Aironi and the Coca-Cola Red Sparks, respectively, while he also played two tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens in 2011.

After progressing into coaching, Marshall had promised his family that he would put an end to moving to different locations as he had done throughout his playing career, but that promise has been put on hold for the time being.

“Out of nowhere, Razor gave me a call and asked if I’d be interested in filling the massive shoes of Andrew Goodman,” Marshall said via a statement.

“Although I promised the family I would put a stop to moving around for work, when Razor comes calling, probably the most successful coach in Super Rugby, and asks you to come to the most successful franchise, it was a no brainer.

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“His record speaks for itself. I’ve always admired the success of the Crusaders from the outside and wondered what goes on behind the walls, so I’m really excited to get started and work with him, and the rest of the coaching staff, who are all world class coaches in their own right too.”

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With seven players – Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Ethan Blackadder, Quinten Strange and Sione Havili Talitui – all hailing from Tasman, Marshall comes into his new role with a strong understanding of numerous players from his position as an assistant coach at the Mako.

He also played with and against many others within the Crusaders squad while he was a player at the Hurricanes, Tasman and Taranaki, which he believes gives him a point of difference as a coach.

“There’s not many players I don’t know, both through coaching at Tasman and my playing days,” he said.

“I feel like I’m going into it with a bit of knowledge around what the guys are like, and I’m just looking forward to working with them as a rugby coach and try feed them whatever info I can.

“They’re all world class players as well, so I’m sure they can teach me a few things too.”

After wrapping up his coaching commitments with Tasman, Marshall will officially begin his Crusaders duties when they assemble for pre-season training at the end of this year.

“I just really want the Crusaders to continue the success they’ve had. The great teams understand that they can’t rest on their laurels and need to keep improving, so hopefully I can offer one or two little things that might make a big difference,” he said.

“Personally, I want to learn as much as I can from the coaches and players involved and see where we all end up at the end of next season.”

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