The cross-code love affair between the Crusaders and Storm continues to deepen with Craig Bellamy popping up in the Kiwis’ coaching box and talk of a Cameron Munster-for-Richie Mo’unga trade setting tongues wagging in Melbourne at the weekend.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was having a laugh on the Munster move – “I don’t know if we could handle Cam and with the salary caps and what Richie’s probably going to get paid I don’t think they could do that deal” – but he was serious about his respect for the NRL coach and the Storm’s legacy of success.
He even proposed a pre-season player exchange to “keep things fresh” as both teams search for the extra edge.
“We had (Test backs) Dave Havili and Will Jordan spend a couple of days with them this week,” Robertson said. “They were blown away, both sides, it was a great experience for them. We might have to do a swap at pre-season just to keep things fresh.”
Bellamy invited Robertson to watch the Storm’s captain’s run session on Sunday ahead of Monday’s Anzac Day clash with the Warriors, then the supercoach sat in the Crusaders’ coaching box to watch Robertson’s team fight back from a 13-0 deficit to thump the Rebels six tries to two.
“They’re just a real great club,” Robertson said. “One year we used them as our theme, ‘purple reign’, [and] a lot of their trademarks and standards of behaviour that they use are really well-aligned, so we do a lot of work with them.
“You get in your own four walls a lot, you do what you get used to and each year you’ve got to find a way to get better. When you go to other teams, you might only get one or two little things, you might just tweak some of your philosophy, or it might be a really big idea you’re going to run with. When other people do it and you share those experiences, you get the best out of it.”
With four titles and several more grand finals to their name in a 23-year history, the Storm have found themselves a mecca for international sporting sides over the years, and last week Wallabies coach Dave Rennie also made a pilgrimage to Bellamy’s kingdom.
Robertson has led the Crusaders to three Super Rugby titles and two Super Rugby Aotearoa wins and was regarded as hard-done by after being overlooked for the All Blacks coaching role when Steve Hansen stepped down in 2019.
He gave a fascinating insight into the Storm’s methods after Sunday morning’s captain’s session, revealing Bellamy used every last opportunity to drill his side on detail.
“They show a few more clips than us, they talk through the game a little bit more in depth,” he said. “We probably give a little bit more ownership to the players a bit more about what they think, so they start to own the game at the end of the week.
“But it’s great, it’s just a different way of doing it. There’s no right way. You always learn little bits along the way, a bit of gold to pick up.”
The Crusaders weren’t able to watch the Storm take on the Warriors, flying to Sydney instead to prepare for the Waratahs at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
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