Ah... it seems only 8 months ago that our man Reuben was lifting the S12 trophy. Some may say that 4 wins in 5 years is greedy, and those people probably aren't Cantabs.
What does the new S12 season hold in store for the Crusaders?
Hurricanes, Feb 22nd. Christchurch
Well firstly there is a game against the 'Canes. Nothing like a good mystery to get the heart pumping, and if there were every a more mysterious match-up it would be a South African team and the foreign referee they were happy with!
Will the 'Canes fire? Will the Crusaders fire? Will the game be a sceptical of the good kind?
Reds, Mar 1st. Christchurch
I'll hope for a steady performance from the R&B's (actually I'd better check out the 2003 jerseys before I start making rash statements like that) because the second game, also at home, is the Reds.
Damn why couldn't we have an easy start like playing the Wattalaughs?
Blues, Mar 8th. Albany
Surely by week 3 our boys should be ready to spank the Blues in Albany?
Chiefs, Mar 14th. Christchurch
And if there are a few injuries after that one, at least we then have a home game against the Chefs'. Although after last years NPC these guys might be able to lift themselves out of the "pet-food" section, and move toward the "fit for human consumption" category.
Not what my heart wants to see, but it can only be good for the NZ game.
Week 5, BYE
Highlanders, Mar 29th. Dunedin
The Bye has really tested the Crusaders in past years. Last year we had the Blues to reignite for, this year the Highlanders at the House of Pain. Yeeesssss... that will do nicely thank you!
The second half of the draw includes 4 away games out of 6.
Waratahs, Apr 5th. Sydney
First up the Wallytahs in Sydney. You would think that the Worrytahs couldn't possibly fail as badly as last year, especially at home.
That's one way of looking at it... I prefer to think of this as an opportunity to do it all again, though I don't think that a stunned Sydney crowd would lift the Cantab's quite the same.
Regardless of this we then face all the South African's in a row.
Cats, Apr 12th. Christchurch
Sharks, Apr 18th. Christchurch
Bulls, Apr 26th. Pretoria
Stormers, May 2nd. Cape Town
Cat's and Sharks in Chch, and then Bulls and Stormers away. Certainly nice to get the “warm-up huge-tackle” practise in before playing the Stormers.
Brumbies, May 9th. Canberra
Then for a bit of light relief the last game against the Brumbies in what's left of Canberra.
Not too bad a draw. Not quite as wonderful as the last winners draw, but we know what happened then. Hope the boys are ready for a full year with a price on your head. With last years performance everyone else has a point to prove. And then there is a little thing called the Rugby World Cup, all the S12 players will be playing for selection in that.
Still motivationally, these things work both ways.