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Ian Jones commends the 'sheer physicality' of returning Crusaders star

By Ned Lester
Codie Taylor. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The defending champions were desperate for a result against the top-of-the-table Blues in round 14, and thanks to some stand-out performances, they got it.


The classic rivalry between the Crusaders and Blues entered a very different era in 2024, but even with the Christchurch club claiming just two wins from their 12 contests heading into the game – in stark contrast with the Blues’ 11 wins from 12 games – the result was anything but certain.

Eight All Blacks lined up to start the game for both clubs and the discrepancy in records on the season was quickly rendered redundant as the rivalry resumed at full pace.

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Leading the home team into battle was All Black Codie Taylor, having recently returned from a non-playing sabbatical but resuming his familiar high standard of play like he never left.

The hooker’s performance was acknowledged by former All Black Ian Jones when asked who his player of the round was.

“I’ll preface this, it’s a tight forward. I’m a little bit biased there,” the All Black great laughed on the SENZ Rugby Run.

“Codie Taylor is my player of the round. And the reason I’ve chosen Codie Taylor is he just set that mindset and aggressive platform for the Crusaders. That directness that he brought about the game, the way he targetted the scrums, his lineout throwing was on point, just nailed it every time so I was impressed by that.


“But just the sheer physicality. And when you have a guy like that, your skipper, clearly going forward, just being direct, being physical, people get in behind that.

“It set a platform and a spark. So, that’s why I’ve chosen Codie Taylor as the player of the round.”


The player of the round recipient was debated but not beyond the red and black jersey. While Taylor led the Crusaders to set piece dominance, two of his teammates excelled around the park.

Ethan Blackadder claimed a game-high of 27 tackles completed – without a miss – and Christian Lio-Willie provided a game-high of 18 carries. Both players made a game-high of three dominant tackles.


“I threw this one up, I thought Christian Lio-Willie? Ethan Blackadder? I’ve gone with Ethan Blackadder,” Mark Watson added.

“I thought he was the real loss for us last year with injury, he got brought into that World Cup squad at the last minute but never really played in France.

“You said it earlier, I think if he’s fit you’ve got to have him somewhere in that All Blacks squad, if not starting.

“I know there’s probably some competition for the No. 6 but he just needs to be in this All Blacks setup. I thought he was brilliant last night and both of them were part of the real difference in that Crusaders performance. So I’m going to go with Ethan Blackadder narrowly over Christian Lio-Willie.”

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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Ross 23 days ago

Ian dead right on all accounts l can’t see Sotutu Papalli getting a look in even off the bench.
I’ve bee n watching Papalli around the field in a lot of games he’s a seagull only seems to commit himself near the line is to catch some.
The days are over for players like that anymore we need Blackadder type players covering 6/7/8 rugged and tough.

Graham 24 days ago

Ian Jones is spot on about Codie Taylor . The physicality and leadership he showed for the Crusaders was immense. Inspirational. But Mark Watson equally right about Ethan Blackadder 27 tackles. No misses. He was a machine.

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Flankly 15 hours ago
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