Champions, the Crusaders, are not taking Dick Muir’s Sharks as an easy beat. They believe the South Africans will pose their toughest challenge yet in this year’s Vodacom Super 14.
All Black and Crusaders fullback Leon MacDonald said his team’s approach would be very different from the first two matches and the fullback clearly hasn’t forgotten the physical torture of the Crusaders visit to Loftus a year ago.
Back then the Bulls bullied New Zealand’s finest franchise and inflicted a rare thumping defeat. MacDonald clearly believes that if you’re not tuned in for a war against South African teams, you get beaten.
“There’s Australasian physical and there’s South African physical. And when you first come up against the boys from the republic you definitely know about it,” MacDonald told the New Zealand media.
“They’re physical men and this is the first time a few of our guys will have played against South African teams. It takes a bit of getting used to — just the way they muscle up. You’ve just got to get physical really and get used to the different style of game than we’ve played the last few weeks. It’s not really rocket science and you’ve just got to get ready for a tough battle.”
The Crusaders beat the Sharks in a 111 point thriller last year. The only problem was they got 77 and the Sharks 34. And their intent seems as clear this time round with coach Robbie Deans expected to name a full-strength line-up.