Todd Blackadder

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Canterbury Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will step down at the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season, the team said on Tuesday.

Former All Blacks captain Blackadder, a cult hero in Canterbury, would have been in charge for eight seasons by then, having replaced Robbie Deans following the 2008 competition.

“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’ve 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 the time is right for someone else to take the reins and lead the team in their own direction in the future.”

The Crusaders are the most successful team in Super Rugby, having claimed seven titles, but have not won the southern hemisphere competition since Deans left for a job with Australia’s national team.

Blackadder has led them to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons in charge, but they have lost two finals — to the Queensland Reds in 2011 and New South Wales Waratahs in 2014.

Typically stocked full of All Blacks, the side is in something of a transition after losing three flyhalves in Daniel Carter, Tom Taylor and Colin Slade to lucrative offshore contracts, while loose forward Richie McCaw has retired.

McCaw, who led New Zealand to two Rugby World Cup triumphs, including this year in England, was one of the best players ever to grace the game and ended his 14-year test career as the most capped player (148) and captain (110) in world rugby.

Blackadder said he had no immediate plans for the future.

“I am thinking no further ahead than the season that is in front of me,” he added. “I am incredibly excited about the 2016 season and what happens beyond that is immaterial right now.

“There have been some big changes in the… 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.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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