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Blackadder thought All Black days were over
May 29, 2000

Todd Blackadder thought his All Black rugby days were over when he was unceremoniously dumped two years ago.

Axed by coach John Hart after the Second Test against an under-strength England side, Blackadder's only other All Black appearance was a token one against New Zealand A on his home ground at Jade Stadium last June. But now the Crusaders' esteemed captain is the new All Black skipper, appointed to lead a 26-strong squad that includes 10 Crusaders team-mates.

Blackadder said his elevation completed the most memorable weekend of his life. Less than 24 hours earlier he had led the Crusaders to their third consecutive Super 12 title, beating the ACT Brumbies 20-19 in Canberra.

"This has capped off a great weekend -- I don't think I've quite had one like this in my life," he beamed. "It was fantastic to be part of the Crusaders and win three Super 12 championships let alone this. To hear a lot of the other Crusaders named in the All Blacks was sensational."

Blackadder was widely tipped to take over the reins of an All Black team that had veered off course in the last two years under the Hart and captaincy of Taine Randell. Hart has gone, but Highlanders' captain Randell remains in the squad named by new coaches Wayne Smith and Tony Gilbert and third selector Peter Thorburn for the tests against Tonga and Scotland before the Tri-Nations series.

Blackadder, 28, was discarded by Hart after making his run-on test appearance for the All Blacks as a flanker in the second test against England. The excuse of shin splints was used as Blackadder was omitted from the squad to play the Tri-Nations.

Blackadder said he did not expect to play for the All Blacks again after Hart overlooked him.

"But I've always said I don't worry about the things I can't control and the one thing I can control is my performance. I'm enjoying my rugby and the Canterbury environment."

Asked what his first command would be to his fellow All Blacks, Blackadder said that he first wanted to prove he was worthy of being an All Black.

"My first job is to get out there and play well," he said. "As with Canterbury and the Crusaders you're a player first and the captaincy is the second role."

Brought to you by AAP

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