With a new fitness new trainer and their new homeground nearing completion, the seven-time champion Crusaders are confident they can end their three-year Super Rugby title drought.
The Crusaders, beaten finalists last year, won their last crown in 2008, and the side now find themselves in a unique position - three years without a title and having been usurped by the Bulls and Reds as the most successful teams in recent years.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder feels that Carl Jennings, the strength and conditioning coach, has ensured his side is much better placed than they were this time last year.
Speaking to the media when the Crusaders resumed their pre-season workouts on Monday, Blackadder said that while the Crusaders culture is often talked about, they've made some changes for the 2012 season.
"I think we're running a far better programme, but the results will have to speak for themselves," Blackadder told Newstalk ZB.
"I'm really pleased, we've got a new trainer so he's been a bit of a different work ethos to the Crusaders this year."
He says there wasn't any gutbusting runs on the first day.
"Everyone gets to meet everyone and introduce themselves and basically make sure we start as we left our pre-season training, getting everyone up to speed who hasn't been involved."
Crusaders and All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw will be back at training this week, despite his injured foot, but won't be doing any of the running programme.
* Meanwhile the Crusaders said Rugby League Park is on track and should be ready for their second home match of the season - against the Cheetahs on March 24.
Hamish Riach, CEO of the Crusaders, said that contractors were working incredibly hard and were making good progress on converting the grounds to a first class sports and outdoor entertainment centre.
“This has been an ambitious programme from the start and we are delighted that we are getting closer to having home games in Christchurch.”
Riach said that the Crusaders were thankful of the great support they had received from Central Government and the City Council in helping turn Rugby League Park into a first class rugby ground, complete with state-of-the-art structures, new floodlights and new turf.
The Crusaders are exploring all options for their first scheduled home match, against the Chiefs on March 9.
A decision will be made later this month.
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