Rugby: Blackadder philosophical about first `home' game venue

Napier, Nelson, or Timaru -  Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is philosophical about where his team plays its first home Super Rugby match.

McLean Park, Napier, has firmed up as the likely venue for the round three "home'' match against the Chiefs on March 9, with an announcement expected late this week.

The Crusaders, who played all their matches away last year on their way to the final due to the earthquake damage to AMI Stadium, would be comfortable with that, said Blackadder.

"I'm just really happy with the fact we're going to be playing home games back in Christchurch and if it means we can't play at home for the first game, well so be it,'' he said.

"This is a pretty tough, resilient Crusaders team.''

Blackadder said he knew the decisions were being made behind closed doors and that was around finance - the priority being that it had to be financially sustainable.

The Crusaders posted a loss of almost $700,000 last year and a fixture in Napier would be the most lucrative.

"This team's just ready to play,'' said Blackadder. "By the time we get to there it won't be a concern, I can promise you that.''

Christchurch's new sports stadium at Rugby League Park is meant to be ready for the round five match against the Cheetahs on March 24.

The Crusaders are without their RWC All Blacks, away on promotional duties, this week, and Blackadder hinted they were not likely to be prominent in the pre-season matches.

"The other guys have had five weeks' preparation and they're absolutely keen as mustard to get out there and play,'' he said. "So I want to give them the opportunity.''

With a contingent of young players from Canterbury's championship-winning NPC team promoted to the Crusaders, he said he also needed to see these players in action and what they were like under pressure.

Both Richie McCaw and Dan Carter were also recovering from injuries.

- Nick Tolerton of The Star

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