Reds and Crusaders inspired by hardship
July 4, 2011
Ewen McKenzie will have no problem motivating his team this week © Getty Images
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believes that his side and the Crusaders will have plenty of additional motivation heading into Saturday's Super Rugby decider at Suncorp Stadium.
The two franchises bring vastly different experience into the contest, as the Queenslanders take part in their first final since they defeated the Transvaal Lions in 1995 when the competition was known as Super 10's, while the Christchurch-based side will be taking part in their 10th final in 14 years.
However, the recent natural disasters which have struck both locations will no doubt be an inspiration which binds the two teams.
"The people of Queensland have had similar adversity to overcome as a result of the January floods and Cyclone Yasi," McKenzie told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Queensland is over the worst of it, but there are still a lot of Queenslanders out there battling as the rebuilding goes on."
McKenzie again conveyed his respect for Todd Blackadder's men ahead of the showdown, suggesting the Reds will go into the final as underdogs despite having the home advantage.
"They're the benchmark side," he said. "That's why we played two pre-season trials against them. I agree this has been a difficult season for them, but I think there has been a side-benefit to all their travelling.
"The fact they've been away from their families for most of the season means they have become family to each other. And you can see they play for each other. But we've been very good in our 'teamliness' - if I can invent the word - as well.
"That shows in our defence, in the way we help each other when it gets tough on the field. And it shows in the players' obvious enjoyment of what we're doing."
McKenzie said that Wallabies tighthead James Slipper would not be rushed back from his syndesmosis injury, but the Reds will otherwise be at full strength.
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