CRUSDADERS coachTodd Blackadder has removed the vice-captaincy from star first- five Dan Carter.
He has been replaced by George Whitelock and Ryan Crotty, while Kieran Read will lead the side in the absence of Richie McCaw when their season kicks-off against the Blues in Auckland on March 1.
Carter has been vice-captain since 2011, but Blackadder said the All Blacks No 10 was happy to step aside in the interest of taking some pressure off his shoulders, as the side look to win their first Super Rugby title since 2008.
“He (Carter) has taken it really well. If anything we are just wanting to unburden ‘DC’ a little bit,” Blackadder told The Press.
“A lesson learned from the past is that when you have got guys in the All Blacks leadership roles, and they have that added responsibility, it just doesn’t stop when they leave the field.
“It is constant. They are having a lot of leadership meetings which are a distraction. We just want them to come back to the Crusaders and play well rather than have the expectation that they have to lead.”
Carter, who lives in Auckland, is expecting his first child with wife Honor in April.
Relieving Carter of the vice-captaincy also gives the first-five the option of skipping some off-field duties.
“He probably won’t go to as many leadership meetings but he will contribute in other ways,” Blackadder said.
“And that is because he wants to – not because he has to. And there is a real difference there.”
Meanwhile, Blackadder says he has been in contact with troubled wing Zac Guildford, who is on indefinite leave from the team while he has counselling for his alcohol issues, but says he is unsure if he will be available this season.
“I have been in touch with Zac quite a bit through text messaging and can tell through what he is saying it (his rehabilitation) is having a huge impact on him …
“If what come out of this is that the guy can come back to play, that would be fantastic. But there are a lot of things that have to happen before that.
“The NZRU are the people he has to front up to … But the Crusaders would love to have Zac Guildford back as a new man with a clean slate.”