CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Jul 5 – The mighty Canterbury Crusaders have brushed off claims by the Jaguares of being underdogs in Saturday’s historic Super Rugby final despite the Christchurch-based side enjoying a 30-match unbeaten run at home.
Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O’Gara referred to the Argentinians on Friday as “really dangerous” with threats across the park after Jaguares coach Gonzalo Quesada paid homage to the defending champions as “the best rugby team on earth”.
With the Jaguares looking for their first Super title in only their fourth year in the southern hemisphere club competition, Quesada attempted to lure the Crusaders into a false sense of security by dismissing his side’s current hot winning streak.
“For us there is no danger of saying we have won seven (in a row) so we are going to keep on winning,” he said. “We are not dreaming more than we should. We know we are playing the best rugby team on earth.”
The Crusaders are unrivalled as the dominant Super Rugby club, bidding for a 10th title in the competition’s 24th year. They are in the final for the 14th time, more than twice as many appearances as any other side.
Despite the enviable record, their incredible 30-game streak at home and having won the title for the past two years, O’Gara was still not prepared to get too far ahead of himself.
“This club is on the verge of achieving something spectacular but we have to forget about that and concentrate on the process,” he said.
“I think a few of the boys, myself included, are dreaming about the big prize and that’s okay but you’ve got to get back to the task and that’s what we’re doing.”
O’Gara, who has known Quesada since the pair coached in France, believed the Jaguares coach was playing mind games.
“They’re going to be really dangerous,” he said.
“For sure, they’re coming to win. They can say they’re in bonus territory but I know the Argentinians and when they get a sniff they’re dangerous and they’re such quality and we respect that challenge.”
– Game plan –
While the Crusaders considered themselves lucky to pip the Wellington Hurricanes in their semi-final last week, the Jaguares were impressive with their 39-7 thrashing of the ACT Brumbies after a flying start with their first 20 points on the board in as many minutes.
But Quesada refused to read too much into that performance.
“They are first in every positive stat so you don’t want to give them turnovers, but you don’t want to kick to them, but you shouldn’t attack too much because of their defence,” he said.
“So we have a strategy to try to be solid on the things we know that we can do, to trust our game plan that we’ve been using and improving all year long.”
Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock (captain), Mitchell Dunshea, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Will Jordan.
Jaguares: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente (captain), Ramiro Moyano, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Tomas Cubelli, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Santiago Medrano, Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Mayco Vivas, Enrique Pieretto, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Domingo Miotti, Sebastian Cancelliere
Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA)