By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said the nine-times Super Rugby champions would pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start all over again after their record winning streak was brought to an end on Saturday.
The loss to the New South Wales Waratahs which ended their run at 19 matches was particularly disappointing because they had been hoping for a victory to dedicate to the people of their home city Christchurch after last week’s deadly shootings.
“It was special,” Robertson said of the streak. “We wanted so desperately to keep that going and put on a good show for our people.
“One good thing on reflection is the way we won those games. From behind, from in front, finals footy. It was a great run and now there’s an opportunity to start again.
“We’ve got to better in a lot of areas (but) one good thing for us is we’ve got six days until our next game, so we can look forward to the week ahead and really focus on the rugby.”
The eight days preceding Saturday’s match allowed them to do anything but that, with the news of the March 15 attacks on two Christchurch mosques breaking as they were boarding a flight south to Dunedin to face the Otago Highlanders.
That match was cancelled and so it was not until Saturday that the Crusaders were finally able to show their public support for the 50 victims, linking arms with the Waratahs and their coach Daryl Gibson for a minute’s silence on the pitch.
“It was pretty special, it was great to be beside Gibbo, who was a proud Crusader in his day, and a local boy. I thought it was a nice touch,” Robertson added.
“We never got to do it last week and we seen a lot of other teams do it so to be able to show our respects was pretty special for us.”
Robertson should be able to recall flyhalf Richie Mo’unga and lock Scott Barrett to face the Wellington Hurricanes in the New Zealand capital on Friday after being forced to rest them under the All Blacks player management protocol.
“We’ve known for a while now what the structure is and we just try and manage it as best we can,” he said of the plan aimed at keeping test players fresh for this year’s World Cup.
“One good thing about it is that it gives other players opportunities and those players are going to be better for the game tonight.
“There’s a lot of Wallabies in that Waratahs team and they seem to play pretty well against us.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)