Palu stays with Waratahs and Wallabies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Palu stays with Waratahs and Wallabies

By Adrian Warren 09/04/2010 07:49:42 PM Comments (0)

Re-signed Waratahs powerhouse Wycliff Palu admits NSW face a big ask but says the team is ready for the challenge of winning their potentially season-defining Super 14 rugby clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The powerful No.8 gave the Waratahs a big pre-match boost by committing to the franchise for 2011, with the option of having one more year.

Entering the round as ladder leader, NSW could find themselves sliding down the ladder if they lose to the third-placed Crusaders.

By Friday night they were second, overtaken by the Bulls who beat the Chiefs 33-19 in Hamilton.

With their bye to come next week followed by a meeting with the Brumbies, NSW could suffer serious damage to their finals aspirations if they go without points for successive weeks.

"You can't be worried about those things, you just have to deal with the game you've got to play this weekend," NSW coach Chris Hickey told reporters at Sydney Airport on Friday prior to the team's departure.

Both teams are riding five-game unbeaten streaks but the Waratahs have won one out of nine clashes with the Crusaders at their formidable Christchurch fortress.

"It's a big ask, but I think the boys are pumped up," said Palu, who declared the prospect of winning a Super 14 title as one of the reasons he opted to stay with NSW.

"We've got to go out there and play our game. Probably in the past we've worried about the opposition too much and it's all about us I think this week."

Hickey stressed his side couldn't afford to get into a negative mind set against a Crusaders side that applies a lot of pressure.

"You've got to be able to operate under that pressure and you've still got to be able to play the strategies that you want to play.

"The Crusaders are a difficult team to attack against because they are good at playing strong field position and they really squeeze you when you are in your own half.

"To beat a team like the Crusaders, you can't be too negative. You've got to be positive."

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder confirmed his team would try to exert pressure whenever possible against a Waratahs side he lavished with praise.

"They (NSW) have been playing very well this season and have some real threats in their backline," Blackadder said on the Crusaders website.

He will give veteran lock Chris Jack his first Super start of the season in a near full strength side, missing only hooker Corey Flynn and halfback Andy Ellis.

Hickey said he was really confident skipper and openside flanker Phil Waugh, who has been bracketed together with Super rookie Chris Alcock, would start the game after missing last week's win over the Cheetahs with a quadriceps injury.

He was 100 per cent confident about Palu, who declared himself ready to go after a hamstring injury kept him out of the Cheetahs clash.

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