Deans likens Reds to '97 Crusaders - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Deans likens Reds to '97 Crusaders

By Jim Morton 04/02/2009 07:45:56 PM Comments (0)

Queensland's unheralded youngsters have convinced Robbie Deans of their potential with the super-coach delivering a huge wrap by likening the Reds to the Crusaders outfit which went on to build a Super rugby dynasty.

Deans compared the perennial Super 14 battlers to the 1997 Crusaders which laid the platform for a hat-trick of Super 12 titles from 1998-2000.

The Wallabies coach on Wednesday talked up the talent and drive of a tight-knit young group at Ballymore, which will gain polish through marquee signing Daniel Braid.

"They remind me a bit of the Crusaders of `97," said Deans, who rated Queensland capable of making the play-offs for the first time since 2001.

"We got together a group that was young and enthusiastic and really excelled.

"The Reds are on the ascent of the climb. They know they have capability.

"They are evidently going to get there it's just a matter of time, when they turn that motor over.

"Inevitably they will get outcomes this year, there's no doubt about that."

The support comes on the eve of Queensland's final trial match against the Western Force at Ballymore on Thursday night before they kick off the competition with a tough South African road trip.

Deans was an assistant to head coach Wayne Smith when the Christchurch-based Crusaders went from wooden-spooners to sixth in the 1997 Super 12.

As head coach Deans himself won five Super rugby titles guiding the Crusaders, including last year's crown in a fitting farewell.

Many pundits expect the Reds - who have lost old heads Chris Latham, John Roe, David Croft and Sam Cordingley - to again finish as the lowest-placed Australian outfit in the Super 14.

But Deans felt former All Blacks and Blues flanker Braid would lead on and off the field to guard against the pitfalls of the team's inexperience.

"He'll be able to channel their energy consistently," he said. "What happens with young teams is they're exuberant and they see opportunities and they often push those opportunities all the time and can be impatient some times.

"The art of learning is you don't always have to throw the miracle ball or play the miracle play."

Deans' message could have been singularly delivered to maturing Reds playmaker Quade Cooper, 20, who impressed in his debut Wallabies tour late last year but is still being warned not to overplay his hand.

"(Braid) is still hungry and the vigour that you get with his enthusiasm and the fresh challenge combined with a group that is clearly coming on and really excited about getting on, is really powerful," Deans said.

Cooper and interim captain Berrick Barnes has been tipped out of goalkicking responsibilities for the start of the season with halfback Ben Lucas winning the role in a kick-off at training.

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