Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson is calling on his squad to learn from the “uncharacteristic” error that cost them dearly in last week’s defeat to the Highlanders.
Last Friday’s 33-12 upset loss to their South Island rivals left Robertson and his troops with plenty to work on in the lead-up to Sunday’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington on Sunday.
The 46-year-old admitted it has been “an honest week” as the playing group and coaching staff have been forced to reassess their approach heading into their upcoming fixture.
“To get better, you need to be honest and we just looked at ourselves and our preparation, some individual performances, and also our coaches’ preparation before it. We’re better for that,” he told reporters on Friday.
Robertson pinpointed his side’s lack of execution as an area of their game that needs much improvement if they are to emerge from Sky Stadium with a victory.
Immediately after last week’s match, Robertson lambasted his side’s high error rate and poor handling skills. He also credited the Highlanders for using last week’s off-field drama as a motivation tactic to defy the odds and overcome the Crusaders.
The former All Blacks loose forward reiterated those sentiments shortly after naming his side for Sunday’s match as he challenged his players to be more clinical, efficient and have a stronger desire to succeed.
“Execution was big for us. We had enough opportunities and didn’t take them, which is really uncharacteristic for us,” Robertson said of where the Crusaders went wrong last week.
“The other thing is we were against a side that was pretty desperate. The human spirit is amazing when they have a bit of adversity and they can get together like that.
“Just shows how much they care about their jersey and [we] probably got out-cared that night.”
Asked if he expects a similar showing of passion and commitment to the cause from the Hurricanes, Robertson said the Wellingtonians are in a similar situation to the Highlanders given their last-placed rankings on the competition standings.
“They’re desperate as well. They can get their season back on track with a win against us and get themselves back into it and that’s probably one of the good things from the weekend. The result keeps everyone alive,” he said.
“They’ve got some quality players and they’re well-coached, so full respect in our preparation for them.”
Just how the Crusaders have prepared for the Hurricanes remains to be seen, but Robertson was insistent that his team need to turn up to the match in the right state of mind if they are to turn their fortunes around.
“Something we’re really proud of, turning up with the right mindset every week, and if you’re slightly off, those are the results you’re going to get.”
The Crusaders have welcomed All Blacks wing Sevu Reece back into the starting lineup for this weekend, while loosehead prop Joe Moody will celebrate his 100th appearance for the franchise.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have named 19-year-old rookie Ruben Love in No 10 in what will be his first start in Super Rugby after just five minutes off the bench in his debut against the Highlanders two weeks ago.
Kick-off for Sunday’s clash between the Crusaders and Hurricanes is scheduled for 3:35pm NZT.
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