Battered Crusaders still upbeat brings you the latest news from New Zealand’s franchises.

Battered Crusaders still upbeat

Crusaders’ stand-in captain Kieran Reid says they are still optimistic about making the play-offs.

The Crusaders had lost three matches on the bounce before squandering a 20-6 half-time lead to draw 23-all with the Force in Christchurch at the weekend.

Despite their poor form Reid believes that the competition is still wide open.

‘The result probably was the worst thing about the weekend,” stand-in skipper Kieran Read told “We felt we took a huge step in the right direction in terms of our performance. We played with a bit more Crusader-like feel. We couldn’t quite nail it, but we’re pretty positive in the camp.

‘When you look at the table, we’re only eight points behind the leaders, and six out of the top four,” added Read. “That’s only a couple of wins. It’s a tight battle this year and if we can just get a few wins under the belt to put us in position where we’re sniffing around it will give us a bit more confidence.

‘I think we turned the right corner on Saturday. If we can get a good win over the Waratahs this weekend that would be a massive confidence-booster when they’ve been playing really well at home. It will be good test. If we can do that hopefully we can turn the season around.’

Canes fighting fight

The Hurricanes are likely to welcome back a number of injured players for this weekend’s clash against the Bulls.

The Canes are pushing hard for a place in the top four but have been dogged by injuries to key players thus far.

However, they are expected to be bolstered by the return of hooker Andrew Hore and the possibility of utility-back Cory Jane coming into the match 22.

‘I’ll be running today. It’s a little bit sore, but compared to what it was, it was terrible back then,’ Jane told the Dominion Post. ‘I haven’t done any running for a few weeks, I’ve been stuck on the grinder, but I’ll get out there and hopefully it’s good.’

Meanwhile, skipper Rodney So’oialo says they’re pumped for the challenge of the Bulls.

“We’ve had a good break and the break probably came at the right time. The guys got the chance to regroup and get the bodies right,’ he said.

“But in saying that, we have the Bulls this week, and they are a tough team, and then it’s three weeks away, two games in Africa, one in Perth. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.”

More to follow…