"Enjoying the job" is going to be a big thing for the
Crusaders this year as they chase the Super Rugby title that
has eluded them since 2008.
Senior player George Whitelock, who has captained Canterbury
to NPC titles and was the Crusaders skipper for the opening
pre-season match against the Hurricanes last week, said that
was something they were concentrating on this year.
"I think most of all you've got to enjoy your job, and may be
we've gone away from that in the last couple of years a wee
bit," he said.
"So the main focus is, if we enjoy turning up every day,
we'll enjoy playing for the Crusaders, and getting those good
performances out on the field. The closer we are off the
field, the better we'll be on it as well."
Last week's bonding in the boondocks was part of that
Whitelock said it helped the new players get to know the
senior All Blacks and senior players to meet the new Tasman
signings "in a casual environment or out on the hills
When the team was split into six foraging groups, Whitelock
led five other players in country he knows well at the back
of the Clarence, where Nepo Laulala, Tyler Bleyendaal, and
Willi Heinz each shot a pig and Israel Dagg bagged a deer.
Whitelock's contribution was two goats.
The Crusaders had a wild food feast in Hanmer on the Thursday
Whitelock was also in Dan Carter's group that hitch-hiked via
West Coast centres to Hanmer, "so getting picked up didn't
take too long".
The Crusaders meet the Highlanders in Oamaru on Friday night
after their one-point loss to the Hurricanes, and Whitelock
said that in the first three quarters of the game in Timaru
they stuck to their plan and got some good results from it.
In the last quarter as energy levels dropped they were a bit
slow to get into positions on defence and on attack, he said.
However, they were trying combinations and new ideas, and
under fatigue it was what they wanted to do - "test it under
pressure and see if it works".
Asked if the Zac Guildford row had affected the team,
Whitelock said "it's obviously been a bit of an issue for the
media, but the team's 100 per cent behind him, but at the
same time it's his personal time to sort out that."
- Nick Tolerton of the Christchurch Star