Crusaders coach Blackadder to step down after 2016

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Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will vacate his role at the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Former All Blacks captain Blackadder confirmed on Tuesday that he will walk away after eight seasons in charge of the seven-time Super Rugby champions.

Blackadder, 44, replaced Robbie Deans in 2009 and coached the Crusaders to four semi-finals and two finals appearances without the ultimate success.

"This will be my eighth 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 eight 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 he is not looking beyond the 2016 season, which will see the competition expand by three to 18 teams.

"I am incredibly excited about the 2016 season and what happens beyond that is immaterial right now," he added.

"There have been some big changes in the BNZ Crusaders with some significant players moving on and a number of new, younger players coming into the mix, and I think that signals some really exciting times ahead.

"I want the 2016 BNZ Crusaders team to be the best yet. My goals for this season are to have this team playing for each other, to improve our home record, and to have this community feeling proud of their team. I can't honestly say that we achieved that last year, so this is my last chance to get that right.

"I can't wait to work with this season's squad and my ultimate goal is to leave the team in good heart at the end of the season so that it can continue to be the proud and successful team it always has been."