DC loses vice-captaincy
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has relieved Dan Carter of the team's vice-captaincy in a bid to rejuvenate the All Blacks pivot.
Back-rower Kieran Read will captain the seven-times champions in the absence of Richie McCaw - who will return to action in July - while Ryan Crotty and George Whitelock will share the vice-captain duties.
Carter's demotion means the Crusaders will field a revamped leadership group during this year's campaign which starts against the Blues in Auckland on March 1.
Blackadder is adament that Carter - who was the Crusaders' vice-captain since 2011 - is happy with the decision.
"He (Carter) has taken it really well," Blackadder told <i>Fairfax Media</i>.
"If anything we are just wanting to unburden 'DC' a little bit.
"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."
Not being vice-captain means Carter will have the option of avoiding some of the Christchurch-based franchise's off-field tasks.
"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 revealed that he has remained in contact with wing Zac Guildford, who took indefinite leave from the Crusaders to undergo counselling following another alcohol-related incident.
Blackadder said he was still uncertain whether Guildford would be available this season. The New Zealand Rugby Union have not confirmed when a misconduct hearing will be held.
"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 ...," he said.
"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."