Motivation no problem for the Crusaders

All Black scrumhalf Andy Ellis says the Crusaders don’t need any external motivation to lift their weary bodies for the Super 14 rugby final against the New South Wales Waratahs in Christchurch on Saturday.

Despite the physicality of their 33-22 semifinal defeat of a dogged Hurricanes in the semifinal last weekend, the players have looked remarkably fresh and keen at training early this week, reports the NZ Herald.

“In finals week, there’s no problem in picking it up and getting excited,” Ellis explained.

“It’s an intense feeling. Everyone’s really excited about the challenge ahead,” the 24-year-old, who debuted for the Crusaders in 2006, said.

“We’ve worked so hard so far and this is the pinnacle, so we’re really excited and just looking forward to it.”

With coach Robbie Deans on the eve of his departure to coach the Wallabies, and Crusaders stalwarts Reuben Thorne and Caleb Ralph leaving for twilight professional careers in Japan, a seventh Super rugby title would make a fitting team send-off.

But while Ellis agrees, he said the players haven’t discussed the prospect.

“It’s not something we talk about ... it’s probably something to worry about more so after the match.”

Ellis said the Crusaders were expecting a difficult challenge from the in-form Waratahs after they toppled the Sharks comfortably 28-13 in Sydney on Saturday.

“They have a strong side and they’re strong throughout,” Ellis said.
“They’ve got good inside backs and a strong forward pack, obviously, and good finishers out wide.

“So it’s going to be a really good challenge.”

Ellis said the Crusaders would be spending “a bit more time on the computer terminal” this week analysing the Sydneysiders’ playing style and formulating a viable game plan.

Physically, Deans has provided a lighter workload for his squad in training runs this week, noting there’s isn’t much point in pushing players at this stage of the competition.

“We’re building into it easy,” Ellis said. “We’re not doing anything too silly, not too much full-on training or weights or anything like that.

“Physically, everyone’s really ready and in the best condition they could be in.

“It’s more of a mental approach now, building slowly for the weekend and being ready to fire on Saturday.”—Sapa

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