Hurricanes tell Waratahs to bring their ‘A game’



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Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has told the Waratahs that only their A game will be enough to beat the Crusaders in the Super 14 final.

“It’s going to be very tough, they don’t lose too many down here, particularly when their mental edge is there,” Cooper said of a Crusaders side who humbled his own men 22-33 in the semifinal.

“It certainly was there (last night) and it will be next week.” he told NZPA.

Speaking after the match Cooper was described as looking like he’d been put through the same thrashing machine as his players at AMI Stadium.

A belief that his team were mentally hardened enough to overcome their Christchurch hoodoo had been shredded by the relentless Crusaders.

The Hurricanes suffered a blow before the match even kicked off as captain Rodney So’oialo was ruled out with injury. The Crusaders were ruthless that even So’oialo’s presence would nor have stemmed the tide.

“I thought they were pretty ruthless in what they did,” Cooper said.

“They really upset our rhythm, particularly in the contact area, which was disappointing because we’d done a lot of work there.”

Unaware who the Crusaders’ finals opponents would be when he spoke, Cooper said whoever it was would need to hit all the right buttons to down the six-time champions.

His tackle-weary side had been brave but composure and execution weren’t in the same league.

“The patience was really good on defence, we didn’t give away penalties with (first five-eighth) Daniel Carter there.

“But it obviously took its toll.

“When we did get the ball, we tried to play catch up. If you try and play catch up against a quality side like this you come second usually.”

Cooper and his players had spoken pre-game of their readiness, citing recent form and what they perceived to be a possible scrum edge.

Those comments appeared to rile the hosts, who produced a handful of power-packed scrums on Hurricanes ball.

However, Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said pre-match words from opponents were rarely used as ammunition by his players.

“Negative motivation doesn’t tend to last too long and it can draw a response that’s not disciplined,” he said.

“There’s enough good reasons to play well and that was evident in the energy that the guys brought.”

It appeared that last week’s final round robin match is which the Crusaders lost to the Highlanders acted as a spur of sorts, with captain Richie McCaw pleased his side consigned several lacklustre performances to the history books.

“There was just a bit of edge at training. You could tell there was a wee bit extra there and that’s what’s required in a playoff week,” he said.

“It was like a different team out there, a whole different intensity.

“There were a lot of guys who have been in this situation of playoff footy before so we knew what was required.”



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