Crusaders set sights on another Super Rugby title

Date published: November 28 2021 - Planet Rugby

The Crusaders are determined to continue their remarkable run by claiming a sixth title in as many years in next year’s inaugural Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

Scott Robertson’s men have enjoyed an incredible period of success, winning Super Rugby three times in a row before Covid put pay to that competition in 2020.

With travel restrictions making it difficult to move freely between countries, Super Rugby Aotearoa was set up and the Christchurch outfit once again dominated, claiming silverware in ’20 and 2021.

They will once again be favourites to emerge triumphant in 2022 and Robertson remains as excited as ever by the upcoming season.

This is the moment

“I think that’s the thing we’re most proud about. You can win two or three, but to go five in a row, and then have the opportunity to go six in a row, is something that drives you, because you know you’re probably only going to get one shot at it. This is it, this is the moment,” the head coach told Stuff.

“That’s what I pride myself on, the ability to inspire guys each year, find a different reason, and go deeper than we’ve had to before. We’re inspired to create new history, there is a totally different mindset, and a different way of motivating people.”

It may not be easy for the Crusaders, however, with Robertson being forced to refresh the squad following the departure of a number of players.

Although there is still a strong spine to the team, the likes of Michael Alaalatoa, Andrew Makalio, Luke Romano, Whetu Douglas, Manasa Mataele and Josh McKay have needed to be replaced.

“It’s a challenge, the depth has been tested,” Robertson said. “Plus, a lot of guys going to Major League Rugby, a few to the Western Force, a couple to Japan. We’re probably about 80 deep compared to last year.”

There has been a big name addition in the form of Argentina star Pablo Matera, whose versatility will undoubtedly bolster the back-row.

“He can play all three…he will add something a little dynamic to our team, a bit of Latin flavour. I think the crowd at Orangetheory is going to get a bit more parochial, there will be a few chants,” Robertson added.

“Remember the Jaguares final [2019] when they all turned up? I don’t know where they came from…but the whole [south] stand was cranking.”