Brumbies 'will show Crusaders respect' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies 'will show Crusaders respect'

By Karlis Salna 20/02/2009 02:45:37 PM Comments (0)

Brumbies coach Andy Friend says his side will give the Crusaders the respect they deserve when they host their arch-rivals in Canberra on Saturday night.

The reigning Super 14 champions come to the nation's capital a depleted side, but Friend expects the Crusaders will stray little from their intimidating style of play.

The Crusaders have the ability to suffocate a game if given half a chance and the Brumbies will need to avoid a repeat of last week's opening round match in which they found themselves trailing the Highlanders 19-0 after just 20 minutes.

The Brumbies got out of jail with a late drop goal to claim a 33-31 win, but the Crusaders will be less forgiving, despite having lost three All Blacks in Richie McCaw (head knock), Brad Thorn (heel) and Leon MacDonald (shoulder).

Friend said the Crusaders remain a threat across the park, and off it, with former captain and now coach Todd Blackadder a major boost to the seven-time Super champions' ranks.

"In defence they will tend to come up pretty hard off the line and put some pressure on us and look to force us into error, and if they do we know how good they can be in then turning that ball into something positive for them," he said on Friday.

"Todd Blackadder coming in will have added some starch to that as well and they're renowned for having that very sound game structure, so in terms of things we respect, we respect the brand, who they are and what they've done in the past."

"They are a team that if you make an error, they will hurt you."

Friend has named un unchanged line-up for Saturday night's clash at Canberra Stadium, rewarding halfback Patrick Phibbs with another start ahead of Josh Holmes.

Holmes, who has been touted as one likely to challenge for national selection in 2009, had been widely expected to get the nod ahead of Phibbs as the Brumbies' No.9 prior to last week's opening round.

Friend instead opted to start the more robust Phibbs to counter the physicality of Highlanders and All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan.

That decision paid dividends for the Brumbies and Friend said Phibbs is deserving of his place in the starting XV.

"Phibbsy's game control is very good," he said.

"He leads the forwards well and he was instrumental in digging us out of a pretty big hole that we got ourselves into last week, so he deserves the chance to be there again."

The Brumbies have only lost 17 of their 82 Super rugby matches at home and have beaten the Crusaders five times in eight meetings at Canberra Stadium.

But they will also be mindful of last year's clash with the Crusaders when they were handed a 34-3 drubbing in Christchurch.

Despite the recent history and the clear and present danger even a wounded Crusaders outfit presents, Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles said the ACT side was more focused on their own game and improving on last week's performance.

"I think the pressure always comes from within," Hoiles said.

"We're expecting to put in a more consistent performance, and hopefully get four points."

A big crowd is expected for the Brumbies first home game of the season, which doubles as a fund-raising effort for the Victoria Bushfires Appeal.

The Brumbies are hoping to raise $100,000 with the players to donate half of their match fees to the appeal.

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