'End of the Crusaders' dynasty': Ex-All Black on the loss to the Chiefs
Ex-All Black wing Jeff Wilson believes the end of the Crusaders dynasty has arrived after the 34-24 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The defending champions and six-time Super Rugby winners under Scott Robertson are currently fifth on the Super Rugby ladder after suffering their third loss of the season.
Wilson wasn’t convinced that they will be able to pull off another title after watching their ‘playoff’ mode rugby fail to work against the undefeated Chiefs.
“I think this could be the end of the Crusaders’ dynasty,” Wilson told Sky Sport’s The Breakdown.
“Because they tried to play playoff football in the round robin. Last night they tried to do what they do in the knockout stages and it didn’t work.
“They don’t have the same amount of depth and experience they’ve had in the past to be able to grind out those big moments, big plays.
“They conceded scrum penalties in the last 15 minutes of a big game and kicked the ball, just didn’t play any rugby.
“I don’t remember them trying to play for multiple phases. When they did, they made mistakes.
“I thought the standard across the board, for these two teams in terms of skill execution, I think they let themselves down.
“It was tight, it was enthralling as a contest, but both teams know they can be better.”
The Crusaders fell behind 19-7 only to rally with two tries to take the lead back heading into the final quarter.
After trading penalties and a couple of lead changes, it was the Chiefs who broke the game open and found two tries to seal the deal.
Ex-All Black fullback Mils Muliaina wasn’t prepared to write off the Crusaders just yet given the heavy injury toll they have suffered.
All Blacks Sevu Reece, Fletcher Newell and George Bower are out for the season while midfielders Jack Goodhue and David Havili have missed large stints.
All Black blindside flanker Ethan Blackadder is also sidelined currently along with a number of other players.
“I still think the Crusaders are there or thereabouts,” Muliana said.
“You have to remember they’ve been hindered by massive injuries.
“The continuity in their game has been hindered by those injuries.
“Havili is coming back into some great form, we still haven’t seen Mo’unga fire like we know he can. He’s shown glimpses, against the Blues he did.”
Wilson reiterated that regardless of the injuries, the departures at the end of the season ensure that this is the last hurrah for the playing group.
Scott Robertson will be leaving to join the All Blacks along with assistant Scott Hansen, first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga is heading to Japan while club legend Sam Whitelock is reportedly heading to France.
“What I’m saying is, it is the end of it,” Wilson argued.
“There is no Scott Robertson, no Richie Mo’unga in 2024. It’s going to be the end of it.
“It is a different Crusaders team you are going to see next season. It is the last stand for this group.”
Former Blues coach John Kirwan was prepared to give the Crusaders the benefit of the doubt and backed them to come back later in the season and challenge for the title.
“I’m going to defend the Crusaders I think the dynasty will not stop,” Kirwan said.
“There are some guys there out on that field that haven’t had big match experience. Yesterday they probably didn’t do the right things.
“I think that if they get a few more people back, start making better decisions.
“When you are continuing to build a dynasty, what needs to happen is you need to fail for those guys to step up.
“The thing about the Crusaders is, they’ll be harsh, people won’t play again if they don’t step up.
“I still think they are not the best side in the competition. I agree with half of your argument that at the moment the Crusaders aren’t good enough.
“But I don’t think it is the end of the dynasty by any means. They’ll get a few players back and come back late.”
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