Blackadder can't believe Tahs agreed to move

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014
Todd Blackadder
DANIEL TOBIN/ Fairfax NZ
MIFFED: Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder can't believe the Waratahs have chosen to relinquish part of their home advantage for Saturday night's Super Rugby final in Sydney.

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Todd Blackadder cannot believe the Waratahs have ditched their fortress to chase the almighty dollar.

If Crusaders coach Blackadder was in counterpart Michael Cheika's shoes he would never allow anyone, or any amount of cash, to persuade him to give-up home advantage for a Super Rugby grand final.

Rather than play Saturday night's much-anticipated match at the Sydney Football Stadium, where they have been unbeaten all season, the Waratahs have agreed to relocate to the less-familiar - but bigger - ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park.

''There is no way I would ever give-up home advantage to anyone,'' Blackadder emphasised.

''This could only be the accountants and not so much the players [making the decision]. I don't think it will make a difference to them, no-one is going to be hamstrung by it.

''But for us it is just the psychological aspect of going to a neutral stadium is just fantastic.''

SFS can hold 44,000 fans while the Olympic Park venue caters for up to 83,500.

Waratahs officials are hoping to break the competition's record of 55,000 spectators - and score a massive payday.

But if anyone from the Crusaders administration dared suggest to Blackadder, who like Cheika is still hunting for his first title as a coach, that he shift a final from AMI Stadium their ears would be bleeding for a month.

''I'm pleased we are playing there and not the other stadium where they have had so much success,'' he added.

''It almost feels like it is a neutral venue for us.''

As a former captain who led the Crusaders to their first three titles between 1998-2000, Blackadder knows how much teams value pre-match routines at home.

Players enjoy the familiarity of their home grounds; they know how the winds swirl in certain areas, where their rowdiest fans sit and during their pre-match routines enjoy recollecting their favourite memories as they take their usual spot in the changing shed.

The Waratahs have sacrificed that.

Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty backed his coach's comments.

''Yeah it's a wee bit weird. I know we wouldn't be taking ours away from AMI. That's interesting, it doesn't change [things] for us. We still have a job to do when we get over there.''

Blackadder's dig at the Waratahs' money men is the first shot fired in what has been, to date, a low-key build-up.

He also encouraged all New Zealand rugby fans living in Sydney to conveniently blur their provincial lines for the night and support their fellow Kiwis.

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His argument has merit: the Crusaders contain a truckload of All Blacks including skipper Richie McCaw and his fellow IRB players of the year Dan Carter and Kieran Read - men who are supported by all Kiwis when they wear black.

Those players are already reasonably familiar with playing at ANZ Stadium, having represented the All Blacks at the cavernous ground.

Yesterday the Crusaders flew out to Sydney and rather than stay in the central city they have located themselves near the Olympic Park, which was constructed for the 2000 Games, an area not renowned for its lively nightlife.

Blackadder said the venue was preferred because of the reduced travel and it was close to training facilities.

The Crusaders have also absorbed lessons from when they stayed in central Brisbane ahead of their unsuccessful grand final outing against the Reds in 2011.

''What we learned from 2011 is that we actually need to get out and get fresh air. We were cooped-up in the hotel, there was no natural sunlight, no fresh air.

''It just didn't serve us well; we almost felt lethargic and went into the game lethargic."

- The Press

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