Cruden ready for a hostile Newlands
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: It is no secret that New Zealand franchises enjoy significant support at Newlands, however, Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden believes his side are still heading into a hostile environment. Tauriq Ebrahim reports.
The Chiefs arrived in Cape Town to the sight of a number of supporters welcoming their heroes and although he knows there will be plenty of Chiefs jerseys scattered around Newlands, the Stormers' supporters will be behind their side every step of the way.
"It's great to have supporters away from home. Whenever we come here [to Cape Town], there are a lot of Chiefs jerseys in the stadium but it is still a pretty hostile environment. The Stormers are going extremely well and there will be a lot of fans for them too.
"We just need to keep our emotions in check when the crowd gets behind their team and maybe use that as motivation too," Cruden said.
The Chiefs captain is well aware of the transition the Stormers has gone through and believes highlighting individuals would be to their detriment.
"We are well aware that the Stormers has good athletes across the board - strong, tough guys prepared to mix it up but this year they seem to be moving the ball around more. We are just going to have to make sure that we are ready for whatever comes our way.
"We are aware of certain [key] players but don't like to highlight them too much because to be playing this level, you have to be a good player. If you place too much focus on one area or a few opponents, then maybe you will get exposed somewhere else," he added.
Cruden admitted that selection for the upcoming British and Irish Lions Series has had a positive impact on the New Zealand teams as all the players wants to put their hand up for selection.
"I guess the allure of being selected [to play in the Series] is making the players want to impress during this competition. Whenever you play New Zealand sides, there is a little of motivation to get one over your opposite number to impress the national coaches but regardless of that, you need to physically and mentally ready to play anyone in this competition each week.
"If you are a little bit off and your opposition is playing well, you will find yourself at the wrong side of the ledger at the end of 80 minutes.
"I would like to think that if you are playing well and putting your hand up consistently then it makes it hard for the selectors not to give you an opportunity. I'm not sitting in the selectors seat, so I cannot speak for them but I think if you are good enough, you will get an opportunity," he stated.
By Tauriq Ebrahim