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Crusaders dedicate first win to absent Razor

REACTION: The Crusaders dedicated their first win of the Super Rugby Pacific season to coach Scott Robertson, who was absent because of a family bereavement, as the reigning champions roared back to their best.

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Robertson, widely touted to be named the new All Blacks coach in coming weeks, missed the Crusaders’ 52-15 thrashing of the Highlanders in Melbourne on Friday.

He remained in Christchurch, handing his duties to assistant Scott Hansen for the opening match of the competition’s “super round” – which features all 12 teams playing in the Victorian capital across three days.

Hansen said the Crusaders spoke to Robertson soon after the win – a performance vastly improved on the previous week’s 10-31 home loss to the Waikato Chiefs to begin their title defence.

“Obviously we are thinking of them at this time. We spoke to Razor at the end of the game,” Hansen told journalists, referring to Robertson’s nickname.

“The main thing is, he is back home with his family.

“I do feel the boys did put in a performance for Ray [Robertson] and [wife] Jane. And we could be proud of that.”

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Richie Mo'unga

New Zealand Rugby this week said it had begun a process to find the new All Blacks head coach from 2024, with Robertson widely seen as the top candidate to replace Ian Foster after leading the Crusaders to six Super Rugby titles.

Foster, who will not re-apply for the role, voiced displeasure at the appointment process, believing it could be a distraction for players ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

New Zealand Rugby said it expects to announce Foster’s successor by mid-April.

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Star Crusaders and All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga steered his team to the thumping victory and said it was satisfying to get back to winning.

“It was awesome to get the win and more importantly play some footy as the Chiefs played all the footy last weekend,” he said.

“We wanted to come out and impose ourselves against the Highlanders and I think we did a good job.”

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