Phoenix turn to Crusaders

Wellington Phoenix have turned to New Zealand's most successful Super Rugby franchise for help with their away day blues.

Wellington Phoenix have turned to New Zealand's most successful Super Rugby franchise for help with their away day blues.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert approached his rugby counterpart at the Crusaders, Todd Blackadder, earlier this month to see if he and Wellington captain Andrew Durante could visit Christchurch to talk about the problem that has plagued the club since its entry into the Hyundai A-League in the 2007/08 season.

The Crusaders spent all of last year's Super Rugby campaign playing away from home after the devastating earthquake in February left them without a stadium.

But despite the ongoing aftershocks and lack of a home venue they still reached the Super Rugby final where they were beaten by the Queensland Reds.

Herbert and Durante visited the Crusaders base last Tuesday, ironically after creating a club record by securing back-to-back wins in Australia for the first time thanks to wins over Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets.

"Not for one moment did I consider cancelling the visit," Herbert said.

"OK, we won two games on the road but now we have to continue getting results away from home."

The Phoenix play five of their remaining nine games away with trips to Adelaide, Central Coast, Sydney and Melbourne scheduled.

"Who better to seek advice from than the Crusaders? They have regularly won away from home and last year, because of the terrible earthquakes Canterbury has been suffering, they were playing away from Christchurch all the time - successfully," said Herbert.

Although Blackadder was attending a funeral and was unable to be at the meeting, Herbert and Durante spoke with assistant coach Daryl Gibson and World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw.

"Actually when we got down to talking we weren-t too far away from what they do, especially on last week-s trip where we were away for eight days,” Durante said.

"So far as away games went Richie said a lot of it came down to attitude. The feeling in their group was that there should be no excuses or feeling sorry for themselves."

"That was the attitude we adopted after losing at home to Perth. We weren-t used to dropping points at home and we said there could be no excuses at Gold Coast or Newcastle. We just had to pick up points."

The Phoenix pair also saw first hand the kind of environment it takes to be successful.

"They would have had at least 12 staff, including three people filming their training session," Durante said.

"We have been getting along with a coach, a fitness trainer, a physiotherapist and a kit man.

"The Crusaders is a really professional set up and I-m sure that is what the Phoenix will have next year."