Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RWC 'hangover' for Crusaders : Du Randt not surprised by start  GREG FORD 22/03/2012  

Avert your eyes if you're looking for some good Crusaders news.
Os du Randt reckons there's "definitely" substance to the theory the Crusaders' flat start to the season can be attributed to a Rugby World Cup hangover.
Big "Ox" should know; the giant South African prop, who played 80 tests for the Springboks, is one of only a handful of players who have featured in two Webb Ellis Trophy winning teams.
The Cheetahs' forward coach arrived in Christchurch on Monday in a sanguine mood. His team is on the up after just their second win outside South Africa, against the Melbourne Rebels last weekend, while the Crusaders have made what can kindly be described as a rather subdued start to the Super Rugby season, giving rise to numerous theories as to why.
Du Randt believes the hangover theory has credence.
"It definitely has to have taken some toll on the players," he said.
"It did for me, especially when the tournament is in your own country, as it was in South Africa in 1995. There was a huge amount of mental stress on the side as there would have been the All Blacks last year.
"So I am not surprised to see guys like Richie McCaw having a break. Everything, as captain, would have gone through him last year so he must have been exhausted, as will have the rest of the team."
Du Randt, who retired from rugby after the Springboks triumphed in the 2007 tournament, cited the example of Bryan Habana to add weight to the hangover theory. He said it took "two or three years" for Habana to rediscover the spark which made him one of the stars of Jake White's cup-winning team.
"The feeling is, now that you have done it you can relax a little, and that can be dangerous for a rugby player who needs to be as mentally fit as they can be."
Only time will tell if du Randt is right.
And, whatever the reason behind the Crusaders' malaise, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Dan Carter is expected to make his long-awaited return on Saturday night to help open Canterbury Stadium in style and, although it may be grasping at straws, the Crusaders are only a handful of points off the top of the competition table pace after picking up four points during the bye week.
Coach Todd Blackadder will name his side today and considerable interest will centre on the composition of his front row.
Du Randt said they had looked "vulnerable" against the Chiefs and he is right.
"They have a good front row. They looked vulnerable last week, but the Franks brothers are world-class players. Their technique is great and their setup always the same. But it is fair to say we arrive here with a bit more confidence than we normally would. We have made some improvements and picked up a win on the weekend while the Crusaders have been slow starters. But we're also conscious that we'll have to produce something special to pull this off." Game on, then.
Cheetahs: Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss (c), Lourens Adriaanse, George Earl, Izak van der Westhuizen, Heinrich Brussow, Justin Downey, Philip van der Walt, Tewis de Bruyn, Johan Goosen, Willie le Roux, Andries Strauss, Robert Ebersohn, Cameron Jacobs, Hennie Daniller. Reserves: Hercu Liebenberg, Coenie Oosthuizen, Andries Ferreira, Ashley Johnson, Piet van Zyl, Sias Ebersohn, Ryno Benjamin
- © Fairfax NZ News

No comments: