Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders coach Scott Robertson prepares for last campaign, as higher honours beckon

With six Super Rugby titles already under his belt, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson insists the clock is not ticking down on probably his last campaign in the professional showpiece.

Since he debuted as coach in 2017, the only blemish on his record was a COVID-marred 2021 Super Rugby Tran Tasman competition, where the Christchurch-based franchise went unbeaten, but missed the final on points difference.

That success has thrust Robertson, 48, to the forefront of All Blacks coaching contention beyond this year's World Cup. If he misses out on that appointment, chances are he will find another opportunity offshore to further his career.

The former All Blacks flanker has clearly outgrown Super Rugby, but is adamant his focus remains on an unprecedented seventh title with the Crusaders, beginning this week against the Chiefs.

"It's pretty early to get nostalgic at the first media session," he chuckles. "I haven't got too reflective on it, because I want to make sure I'm present here today and got everything focused.

"I enjoy it, as I did the first year, and I'm grateful for what I do here. It's really important and we talk about it all the time, how fortunate we are to be at the Crusaders, the role and obligations we've got for the jersey, and how the legacy has set us up.

"There are just little reminders along the way and I still get excited for any of the games, and the Chiefs are a helluva start for us."

One thing has changed since that first campaign, which started with a nervous 17-13 home win over ACT Brumbies.

"There's been some great times along the way and you just want to enjoy it," he admitted. "That's probably the biggest thing - I probably didn't enjoy it as much in that first year as I can do now.

Scott Robertson celebrates the Crusaders' 2022 Super Rugby Pacific victory
Scott Robertson celebrates the Crusaders' 2022 Super Rugby Pacific victory. Photo credit: Photosport

"I've got an incredible coaching staff, an amazing organisation and an incredible rugby team. You're a little bit more experienced, so you enjoy it more."

If this is his last hoorah, the Chiefs loom as fitting first-up opponents, since they have inflicted more grief on Robertson's Crusaders than any other team during the past six years, responsible for four of their 12 defeats over that tenure.

"They've just got a capacity to go deep," said Robertson. "They've got some guys that can create so much, they're physical, they're tough.

"We love playing them, they love playing us. There's a lot of history and a little more on it for whatever reason... they've just had some great moments along the way."

Join us at 7:05pm Friday for live updates of the Crusaders v Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific clash