Top two inches vital in Crusade




Crusaders coach Robbie Deans believe crucial Super 14 games in the next few weeks, in the run-in to the play-offs, will be won by teams making best use of the “top two inches”.

Writing in his weekly column on the Crusaders website Deans said brain power – the “top two inches” he refers to – will also be crucial when they tackle the Hurricanes in an all-New Zealand derby in Christchurch on Friday.

“The top two inches, when added to the individual skills sets the players possess, can be decisive in separating out the top teams,” Deans said.

“It will play a part, both in terms of the preparation and the performance, on Friday when we welcome the Hurricanes to Jade Stadium.

“Few teams in the competition boast a greater ability to strike from anywhere on the field than do the Hurricanes.

“That’s why they are always such a difficult opponent, and why nothing less than a totally committed performance across the park will be required.

“The Hurricanes will be well motivated as are we.

“But while the match will have ramifications for the competition point’s table, as all games do, that has no real relevance in terms of how both teams prepare, and how we will play the contest.

“The Crusaders and Hurricanes have a history of tough contests – including last year’s Super 14 final of course – and we are preparing for that trend to continue on Friday.

“It should be a great game, and one where your support will be valuable, so if you are in the area and can get down to the park, we look forward to seeing you there!”

Deans also spoke of how quickly fortunes can change in the Super 14 – with the Crusaders having gone to the top of standings last week after the Blues came unstuck against the Sharks.

“As all of the teams in the competition are capable of beating everyone else, you have to be on deck – both physically and mentally – for every contest, in order to be successful.

“That dynamic hasn’t changed in any season that I have been involved with the Crusaders and is certainly the case again this year.

“With the competition winding towards its conclusion over the next month, the mental focus becomes even more important.

“By now, most teams have sustained physical damage of varying degrees by way of injuries. In a competition as physically demanding on a weekly basis as the Super 14, there won’t be many individuals who don’t suffer at some point.

“That’s where avoiding the temptation to take short cuts, and ensuring that the players are prepared to continue to do the little one percent things out on the field that are largely unsighted, but make such a difference, becomes critical.

“For the Crusaders, that was evident in the contrasting performances from the match against the NSW Waratahs to the match against the Western Force.

“We were more mentally attuned for one game than the other, and that showed up significantly in the performance of the team on the track, which then manifested itself on the scoreboard.”


365 Digital

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