Tuesday, May 23, 2006
McCaw ready for head-on crash
The only way to keep the physical Bulls forwards in check is to look them straight in the eye.
This is the view of Crusaders captain Richie McCaw, who elaborated: "That's why we won't run away from their forwards (in the Super 14 semi-final in the Jade stadium on Saturday). Where do we run to in any case - in circles? We'll have to confront them head-on so that they can't dominate."
He agrees that it will be very difficult to beat the Bulls in the set pieces because in Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield they have one of the best lock partnerships in world rugby.
"We know they'll try to spoil our lineout possession - something they did well in the previous match. We'll have to do everything possible to prevent them from getting on the front foot, otherwise they'll create opportunities for a game breaker like Bryan Habana and that will also put our backline under pressure.
"When the Bulls played the Stormers, they showed how dangerous they really are.
"I'm satisfied that we really prepared well this week. We didn't do anything different to what we've done in the past and we'll also not drastically change the game-plan that brought us success against the Bulls at Loftus.
"We also have a few tricks up our sleeve that I can't divulge now. Let's talk about them again after the match," McCaw said.
Very dangerous opponents
He agrees with his coach, Robbie Deans, that the Crusaders will not be lured into a false sense of security or be over-confident.
"Few people gave the Bulls a chance to qualify for the semis, but they did. They won't have anything to lose on Saturday and that makes them very dangerous opponents. We'll kid ourselves if we think we're going to beat them as easily as we did at Loftus Versfeld two weeks ago.
"They'll be better prepared and we'll have to produce the best performance of the season if we want to beat them again."
McCaw does not think that the Bulls will suffer from jet-lag.
"When we returned from South Africa, we all agreed that we won't use jet-lag as an excuse for a possible below standard match against the Brumbies.
"Normally jet-lag really catches up with you in the last 20 minutes, but if you know how much is at stake, your adrenalin levels blanket any thoughts of tiredness.
"All professional players in modern rugby are in any case top fit, which makes it possible to get over the effects of jet-lag. It wasn't a factor against the Brumbies, perhaps because we didn't discuss it. There's also too much for the Bulls to play for to let jet-lag stand in their way," said McCaw.
Deans has made three changes to his starting line-up that played against the Brumbies.
Rico Gear (right wing), Andrew Ellis (scrumhalf) and Corey Fynn (hooker) return to the starting lineup.
Leon MacDonald, Rico Gear, Casey Laulala, Aaron Mauger, Scott Hamilton, Daniel Carter, Andrew Ellis, Mose Tuiali'i, Richie McCaw (c), Johnny Leo'o, Reuben Thorne, Chris Jack, Greg Somerville, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: Caleb Ralph, Cameron Mcntyre, Kevin Senio, Tanerau Latimer, Ross Filipo, Campbell Johnstone, Tone Kopelani.