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The uncapped Crusaders star tipped by Scott Robertson to 'push for higher honours'

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson claims promising young flanker Ethan Blackadder has thrust himself into the All Blacks selection conversation on the back of a raft of compelling Super Rugby performances.

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Blackadder was again a standout in his side’s 63-28 thrashing of the Queensland Reds in their second Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match on Saturday before he left the field with six minutes to play due to a head knock.

Speaking to media after the match, Robertson cleared the 26-year-old of any concussion symptoms, which could spell good news for All Blacks selectors as they look ahead to their July test series against Tonga and Fiji.

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“With Ethan putting in a performance like that, it just confirms he’s probably definitely got an opportunity to push for higher honours,” Robertson said shortly after the match at Suncorp Stadium.

Those comments should come as little surprise to observers of Blackadder, the son of former All Blacks captain and ex-Crusaders coach Todd whose hard-nosed approach to the game hasn’t gone unnoticed across New Zealand.

A leading light throughout Super Rugby Aotearoa, Blackadder has carried his rich vein of form into Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, finishing the Reds match as the equal-busiest Crusaders defender with 11 tackles.

On the opposite side of the ball, he produced 67 running metres as part of a clinical Crusaders offence that mercilessly tore the Queenslanders apart.

“He’s just got an absolute thirst for work and contact, and he showed his skill set last night,” Robertson said.

“He gets our hardest worker award every week.”

Even more impressive was that Blackadder turned out at openside flanker rather than his normal blindside spot during Saturday’s outing in Brisbane.

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Filling in on the other side of the scrum in the absence of the injured Tom Sanders and the benched Sione Havili Talitui, Blackadder proved his versatility, an aspect that could help his cause for a maiden All Blacks call-up.

“He’s probably in the South African mould as a seven, he’s a little bit bigger and a bit more robust,” Robertson said, before adding that Blackadder is difficult to shift “once he gets his head on the ball”.

Sitting in third place on the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman table with two wins from as many matches, the Crusaders continue their season against the Waratahs in Wollongong this weekend.

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The uncapped Crusaders star tipped by Scott Robertson to 'push for higher honours'

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