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Ethan Blackadder on his latest return with the Crusaders as an openside

By Ben Smith
Coach Rob Penney of the Crusaders looks on after winning the round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Blues at Apollo Projects Stadium, on May 25, 2024, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

All Black Ethan Blackadder made his latest return for the Crusaders after three weeks on the sidelines to help the side to a 29-27 upset win over the Blues.


The loose forward can play across all three back row positions but made his first appearance in the famous No 7 jersey for the red and blacks.

At openside he was influential, topping the tackle charts with 27 from 27 attempts for a 100 per cent success rate.

Despite limited minutes on the field, Blackadder played through the full 80 in what would be a confidence boost for the man who has been itching to get back to regular game time.

“Managed to find a way through it, it was a tough 80,” Blackadder told Sky Sport NZ.

“Going up against a team on top of the ladder we knew it was going to be tough.

“I think we knew we had a performance in us, we really tried to make it this week for all the players that have worn the jersey before us.

“We had some good motivation and it galvanised us.”

The 29-year-old made an immediate impression, opening the Crusaders scoring with a try through contact, pushing through two Blues’ defenders to score from five metres out.


Floating in the wide channels, Blackadder was involved in a key play early in the second half that led to a yellow card for the Blues. His one-hand offload was knocked down by fullback Stephen Perofeta which saw him sent to the bin.

Down to 14 men, the Crusaders were able to score a key try to No 8 Christian Lio-Willie.

On facing the tough Blues pack renown for physical carries and pick-and-goes, Blackadder knew the Crusaders would have to step up.

The Blues forward-heavy game plan had bullied the Crusaders earlier this season at Eden Park in a 26-6 win.

“You preview the Blues and you see the big forwards, round the corner, round the corner, so we knew we had to try stop the bleeding somehow,” he siad.


“At times, as you saw, it was tough.”

Player Tackles Won

Ethan Blackadder
Cullen Grace
Quinten Strange

The Crusaders were also able to match the Blues at set-piece time, scrumming well with their All Black front row doing the job.

Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Fletcher Newell stood up, with two more All Black props coming into the game Tamaiti Williams and George Bower.

With Taylor back achoring the lineout, the Crusaders were able to register a 94 per cent completion rate.

“The boys up front doing the work, it’s phenomenal. All we can do as a back five, is give them snot and as much pressure as we can. They’re doing the work.”

A problem area for the Crusaders this year has been closing out games in the last 10-15 minutes, which they rectified last night.

Hotham’s try came with 20 minutes to go to give them a 26-22 lead and they were next to score with a Fihaki penalty restoring a seven point lead at 29-22.

That kick proved pivotal as the Blues mustered another strike, AJ Lam’s second, but could not convert from the sideline.

“We knew we wanted to keep playing. As soon as you turn it off, the Blues will get on top of you,” he said.

“It was just keep playing, and something will come our way.”


Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


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Troy 23 days ago

Not a Blackadder fan, don't believe he possesses the specialist qualities for 6,7 or 8 at test level. He's a lot like his father, he's either too short, too slow or not powerful enough to nail a starting spot. He was however a big part of of a loose trio that outperformed their opposites and injected himself tellingly at times to good effect. Crusaders deserved their win (which once again showed the shortcomings of some of the Blues forwards), which actually helped the chances of some of the Hurricanes forwards aspirations of a Black jersey. Ofa and Angus Ta'avao should now be yesterday's men, their time has come and on that performance only Tuipolotu should be considered for the All Blacks.
Go the Hurricanes.

Graham 24 days ago

A really well put together article on Ethan Blackadder. A great guy and as he showed last night , again , a force of nature in the loose forwards for the Crusaders. He was part of a great unit , in he and Cullen Grace and the spectacular Christian Lio -Willie. I also thought Fergus Burke showed his class at first five. Ignited one try scoring movement with a run set up the other with a cross kick.Chay Fihaki , has been amazing since shifting to the wing.

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