Sunday, May 04, 2008

Icy conditions no match for Ellis

By Richard Knowler, The Press
Saturday, 03 May 2008

Andy Ellis and his Crusaders team-mates were not interested in the ice baths after beating the Sharks 18-10 last night.

Recovery sessions after matches often involve players dipping into tubs of ice, but it would have taken a stick of gelignite to get Ellis and his mates out of their hot pool in their AMI Stadium changing shed.

Around 10 players jammed themselves into the tub as they tried to warm up the limbs that had been chilled by the Christchurch cold snap.

"It was one of those nights where you have not trained for these sort of conditions -- it's a bit of a new aspect to the game," Ellis said. "I thought things went all right. The Sharks don't commit too many people to the breakdown, so we did get clean ball quite often. There was a bit of space and I was able to move the ball all right."

Before the match the players had to warm up in driving hail and were forced to deal with the driving southerly rain during it.

Although the conditions were difficult, Ellis was the pick of the backs with his clean, crisp passing and one clean break late in the first half could have set up a try if the ball had not been spilled by Wyatt Crockett as he charged towards the line.

While Ellis has undoubtedly been given a decent ride behind the experienced Crusaders forward pack, he has made the most of his chances and is in a race with Chiefs No. 9 Brendon Leonard for the All Blacks starting spot.

The Hurricanes' Piri Weepu has run hot and cold and at times looks out of shape, while Jimmy Cowan has been part of a battling Highlanders side.

For coach Robbie Deans, the spectre of guiding a Wallabies team against Ellis in the black jersey in the Bledisloe Cup later this year is very real.

Last year Deans rotated Ellis with Kevin Senio, who has since left for France, but this year noted his game had matured.

"He has got a lot of clarity in his game," Deans said."As a result of that confidence he's providing a lot of leadership and a lot of direction."

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