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Crusaders

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Emirates Lions(Updated with BNZ Crusaders playing squad)

The Emirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named an extended squad of 25 players for the quarterfinal clash against the Crusaders, with the big surprise being the possible return to action of inspirational captain Warren Whiteley.

Whiteley, who was originally diagnosed with an injury which would keep him out of Rugby for 6 weeks, and hence miss the entire Super Rugby play-offs, is to undergo a fitness test on Thursday.

Undoubtedly the Lions management, players and all of their supporters will be hoping that he is declared fit to play.

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Todd Blackadder

Todd Blackadder

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has taken a swipe at the SANZAR brains trust over their proposed Super Rugby innovations.

He called the proposed changes to the Super Rugby bonus point system “bizarre” and suggested there was a lack of consultation with franchises on the matter.

The SANZAR initiative, that is expected to formally unveiled early next week, also include a number of minor law variations for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

While some of the expected law innovations still require World Rugby approval, the biggest innovation – a change to the try-scoring bonus points – is what has caused the biggest stir.

The SANZAR change will see the bonus point awarded to teams who score 4 tries or more in a game scrapped and replaced by 1 for teams that score 3 tries more than their opponents.

Blackadder called the proposed change “bizarre” and queried the lack of consultation with franchises on the matter.

The mooted change, widely reported by media in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, is a copy of the system used in the French Top 14 league and aimed at keeping lopsided games alive for longer periods.

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders have confirmed that Fijian Rugby World Cup winger Nemani Nadolo will not be extending his contract with the Christchurch team next season.

Nadolo has agreed to play his rugby in France for French club Montpellier after the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Fijian winger Nadolo was raised in Brisbane Australia and has had playing stints in the UK, France, Australia and Japan but his career only really took off when he joined the Crusaders.

Nadolo is now 1 of the hottest wingers in World Rugby but it was not long ago that he was with the Waratahs and was unable to make the match day team.

The winger left Sydney and played for Bourgoin between 2010 and 2011 before joining Japan’s NEC Green Rocket where he was brought to the attention of Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

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Todd Blackadder

Todd Blackadder

The Crusaders have announced that Todd Blackadder will step aside as head coach at the conclusion of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

“This will be my 8th season coaching the Crusaders, and every minute in the role has been a privilege, but moving on at the end of the 2016 season is the right thing for me and the right thing for the team,” Blackadder said.

“I have been so fortunate to be able to do my dream job for all of these years, but 8 years is a relatively long time in coaching and I feel that the time is right for someone else to take the reins and lead the team in their own direction in the future.

“One of the important things to come out of our 2015 season review is that distractions were a problem for us last season, so that is why I was keen to make my intentions clear before the season begins to avoid my future becoming a distraction for the team during the 2016 season,” Blackadder said.

Blackadder took over from Robbie Deans as head coach of the Crusaders in 2009. He has coached the team to 4 Super Rugby Semifinals and 2 Finals so far, and the final against the Waratahs in 2014 marked his 100th game in the Crusaders’ top job.

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