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Crusaders promise expansive approach

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

WELLINGTON - The Crusaders want to shake their clinical tag in a more expansive approach to winning an eighth crown.

An exhaustive off-season review at the competition giants threw up the need to veer from a traditional percentage approach.

Coach Todd Blackadder says no stone was left unturned after they were ousted in the semi-finals by the Chiefs, the fourth successive season they have reached the playoffs but failed to add to a bulging trophy cabinet.

"What you're going to see this year is a total rebranding of the way the Crusaders are going to play," Blackadder said.

"We've looked at where we've been in the past, we've looked at best practice from our competitors and we're going to raise the bar.

"You're going to see an attacking style of football this year, we're going to attack."

The Crusaders field a good enough pack to make such a gameplan possible, even without resting skipper Richie McCaw, who won't rejoin the red and blacks until July at the earliest.

Fellow All Blacks great Dan Carter will be pivotal to sparking an attacking style while fullback Israel Dagg could be heavily involved.

The franchise has also made noises about restoring winger Zac Guildford, who has stood down to seek treatment and advice following an alcohol-fuelled pre-season incident.

Three of the four Whitelock brothers are in a hard-nosed pack, laden with All Blacks but also boasting youngsters at the heart of Canterbury's record fifth successive NPC title late last year.

BIGGEST GAINS: Johnny McNicholl (winger), Dominic Bird (lock), Codie Taylor (hooker)

BIGGEST LOSSES: Sean Maitland (winger), Richie McCaw (flanker), Ben Franks (prop)