Crotty has endured his share of disappointments this season - most obviously a torn hamstring in the first test against the British and Irish Lions which ruled him out of the next two, but he must be considered ahead on the ledger after winning his maiden Super Rugby title and helping the All Blacks carve up the Wallabies in Sydney last weekend.
The 28-year-old’s ability has long been appreciated by Crusaders supporters and now his consistency and sharpness on attack and defence are gaining the respect of a wider audience.
His partnership with Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield - first made in 2010 when Williams arrived at Canterbury from Toulon - works so well because the pair are so different and yet complement each other so well.
“I thought his game on the weekend was outstanding,” Foster said of Crotty, who has played 28 tests since making his debut in 2013.
“He gets labelled the ‘Steady Eddie’, doesn’t he, in some ways because he doesn’t make many mistakes, but then you look at his gain-line carries, one of the highest in the team (and his) line breaks and offloads, so there is a lot more to his game than perhaps he is given credit for.
“And yes he’s a calming influence and a really good reader defensively, but he’s also a pretty significant contributor on attack in probably a less flamboyant way, but in a very effective way.”
In beating six defenders during his 49 minutes on the ANZ Stadium pitch, Crotty was the most elusive player of not only the match, but of the opening weekend of the Rugby Championship.
His departure coincided with the Wallabies’ comeback and while it would be dangerous to connect the two things too closely, the All Blacks, or Crusaders for that matter, just seem to be able to keep a better shape when Crotty is on the field.
His timing when running on to passes, the second straight from a scrum, helped him to two first-half tries against the Wallabies last weekend and he and Williams appear set to be the current team’s answer to the long-serving former midfield of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
The return Bledisloe Cup test will focus attention on how the Wallabies can tighten a defence which leaked eight tries, but there will be interest too in whether the All Blacks can sustain their efforts for the full 80 minutes.
Crotty’s accuracy will again be important.
“Our attention got a little diverted one way or another and we let them back into the game,” Crotty said.
“We saw when we did execute with the ball and without it, it limited the opportunities we gave them.
“The feeling out there was we were playing a lot and getting quick ball to play with. I guess any time you get that, it’s a little easier to pick defences apart.
“When they start slowing the ball down... it becomes more difficult, which I’m sure will be a big focus for the Australians this weekend.”
For Foster, the problems in the second half were “pretty obvious”.
“We knocked off and lost a real mental edge about how we executed and what we needed to execute,” he said.
“The fact is that it showed in both parts of our game. We let in four tries but some of that was (our) poor attack, some poor decisions in attack.”
- NZ Herald