Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is predicting the New Zealand franchises will still be on a high for this year's Super Rugby season because of last year's World Cup success.
The mastermind behind five Super Rugby titles before he jumped to the other side of the Tasman to coach Australia believes there will be a new confidence in the five Kiwi teams.
''There is nothing like the ultimate endorsement and I guess that's what they've had,'' Deans said yesterday of the New Zealand rugby franchises.
''They've had the endorsement that they're the best players in the world so they'll bring that belief with them.
''It is two-fold, one is that it gives them the confidence to play, but it also give them the confidence to guts it out and believe that they'll actually prevail.''
The 52-year-old Deans was yesterday giving his thoughts on the season ahead and while his main focus is on how the Australian teams go, he did say he was pleased for the people of Christchurch that they'll be able to see their beloved Crusaders in the city once more. He thought the players would benefit from having home games again.
''They will be jumping for joy at being able to sleep in their own beds,'' Deans said.
''Last year they didn't have a single home game and yet they got so close to winning the title. It was a pretty impressive effort.
As for his former assistant, Mark Hammett, who will take charge of his new raw looking Hurricanes for the second year, Deans acknowledged that it could be a tough season for them.
''They will be like the Brumbies, they'll be hungry as hell,'' he said.
''They've got a good leader in Conrad Smith, which was a particularly good appointment.
''They will be passionate and committed and I hope for Hammer's sake that he gets a clean run at it, but it won't be easy.''
Deans sees the Sharks and Stormers as being the strongest South African sides, but he feels the Reds will be the team for everyone to beat.
''The Reds will have a target on their back this year, but I am very confident that they'll be up to the challenge,'' he said.
''I went up there yesterday and they haven't stood still, they've continued to raise the bar in terms of how they prepare and support their playing group, which is a good indicator.
''They will obviously be inspired to retain that title. They've had a taste of it, they've clearly enjoyed it and their public enjoyed it. I fully expect they'll be there at the end.''
Because of his time at the Crusaders, Deans was asked if it becomes easier to win titles after getting that first victory and he felt it is.
''There is no doubt that success does breed success when you reinforce the things that worked for you in the first instance and don't take it for granted,'' he said. ''Also that you know that there are other teams out there who are in a position that you were once in and want what you've got.
''As long as you bring that mentality forward and keep striving for those self improvements, then success breeds success and players love being a part of a successful team and everything that makes that up.
''That's particularly true when you've come from a background of lack of success, it's something that players enjoy and it becomes self fulfilling.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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