Connacht Eyes On Super 15 Finals
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CONNACHT RUGBY SUPPORTERS had no players of their own to cheer on during the Lions tour to Australia earlier this year but they have huge interest in the final stages of the Super 15 championship.
New coach Pat Lam pulled off probably the transfer of the season earlier in the year when he signed up second row Craig Clarke. The captain of the Chiefs and winner of the Super Rugby title in 2012 has been described by All Blacks legend as one of the four best locks in the country.
A mammoth task awaits for Clarke and the Chiefs as they come face to face with the Crusaders in the Super Rugby semi-finals at Waikato Stadium this weekend. Todd Blackadder’s men possess the country’s two finest locks in Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock.
Clarke declares he would be happy to delay his departure to Ireland by one more week at least. Two-time Super Rugby winner has an even better ring to it.
He said, “The fact that it’s a semi-final makes it a big weekend and the fact that it’s our old foes, the Crusaders, makes it even bigger… Last time around [they lost 43-15 in the league] we were clearly beaten up in the forwards area. We’d be looking to address that.” He added:
There’s going to be a fair bit of emotion there and that’s fine. That’s good. Our boys respond well to that. They key is not to get too overwhelmed by it all as out form and structure will go out the window… It’s a pretty big occasion and the fact that a few boys are leaving, myself included, adds to it.”
The Crusaders have peaked at the right time, it seems, and are the favourites to advance to the final. They must get over a poor recent record in Hamilton but, with Richie McCaw waiting in reserve, will be up for the scrap.
So expect a lot of Connacht supporters to be up early to be cheering on The Chiefs this weekend,