Deans expecting Sharks to show their teeth

Crusaders coach Robbie Deans is bracing for a backlash from the Sharks at AMI Stadium on Friday after their recent from has dropped and seen them lose their last two matches.

The Sharks lost 10-25 to the Waratahs in Sydney last Saturday and before that they lost to the Brumbies 21-27.

But Deans knows the now third-placed Sharks will be looking to topple the Crusaders in order to get their second place back.

“They won’t be excited about their recent outcomes, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re a very good side,” he told NZPA after the Crusaders’ training run at Rugby Park.

“Look at the circumstances. It’s the last game before they head home. They won’t want to cross the ocean again, so it’s very important to them,” Deans said.

“We’re expecting the best from them.”

The Crusaders have brought back Casey Laulala who has recovered from his head bump against the Chiefs two weeks ago that ruled him out of last week’s 26-22 win over the Blues.

New Zealand under-19 player Manu is making his second Super 14 start after the 55-7 drubbing of the Cheetahs in the fifth round.

“He offers a real physical presence,” Deans said.

“He likes to defend. He likes to carry and he likes to play. He’s going to be excited.”

Deans said he expected the Sharks to fully test the Crusaders in the forwards and around the breakdown area.

“They’re a side that’s physical. They’ve got a very good scrum,” Deans said.

“If you allow them to play their game, they’ll attack you where they choose.

“If you don’t meet them up front, you’ll be hanging in the contest, at best.”

Deans said the Waratahs managed to get on top against the Sharks by dominating in the contact area.

“The Sharks are unlikely to be suppressed as easily again, I suggest.”

Crossing the gainline would be “pretty important” for both the Crusaders and the Sharks this week, he said.

“If you can win that contest, then it opens up your ability to play.”

Leon MacDonald, Kade Poki, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Sean Maitland, Stephen Brett, Andrew Ellis, Nasi Manu, Richard McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks.

Reserves: Ti’i Paulo, Wyatt Crockett, Ross Filipo, George Whitelock, Kahn Fotuali’i, Hamish Gard, Caleb Ralph.

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