A few eyebrows must have pinged skywards when Tabai Matson burst into Japanese in the Crusaders' war room.
During a five-year stint in Japan, where he played and later coached, Matson regularly attended language lessons and on Monday he rattled out the proverb "chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru" when he addressed the Crusaders players.
"It means that if you pile up enough pieces of dust it creates a mountain," Crusaders' backs coach Matson translated.
Matson wasn't showing off.
He wanted to put a fresh angle on the importance of preparation ahead of Saturday night's Super Rugby semifinal against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
"So for us it is about piling up enough dust as possible. All those things that people don't see actually make a massive difference.
"Kieran Read talked about who will be the best prepared and that's what dust is - drinking well and sleeping well."
Following last weekend's 38-9 annihilation of the Reds, the Crusaders have been installed favourites to win the competition by the TAB but the senior players and coaches are ramming home the message to ignore the hype.
Midfielder Ryan Crotty has emphasised the importance of not missing pool sessions and addressing minor injuries, while hooker Corey Flynn urged everyone to be diligent with their analysis and training duties.
Matson said that could be the difference.
On July 5, the Crusaders thumped the Chiefs 43-15 at AMI Stadium, having lost 28-19 in the earlier derby match at Waikato Stadium.
And the 20-17 defeat in last year's semi in Hamilton still grates with the Crusaders blowing a home final against the travel-weary Sharks.
The Crusaders remain cautious about accepting the praise being heaped on them following the win over the Reds.
"You could see the Lions have taken a big toll on their Wallabies and I'll just leave it at that," Matson said. "They looked like a team who were on their last legs and we punished them for it."
Former midfielder Matson said he decided to learn Japanese after failing to learn French while playing for Brive.
"I was in France for two years and when I left I couldn't speak French and I was gutted," he said. So when I went to Japan, I studied about 20 hours a week."
- The Press
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