Tipoki turns it on

New Crusaders signing, centre Rua Tipoki, believes that the new-look side is set to shine following their victory over a resurgent Reds side at Jade Stadium.

Tipoki, who has enjoyed stints with the Blues and the Highlanders, enjoyed his previous showing in Christchurch – he led North Harbour to an unlikely victory over Canterbury in the Ranfurly Shield.

But for now he is enjoying the “honour of the Crusaders jersey”, as well as getting the first win of the season under his belt.

“This is going to serve us really well in the longer term,” Tipoki declared to the official Crusaders website.

“It’s not just the getting of the win, but the way we played to get it. Queensland really tested us, especially on ‘D’ [defence], which was something we’d worked on since the Blues [game]. They asked the question, and I reckon the boys stood up and answered it.”

“The ‘D’ was really big after last week, and that was important because our attitude wasn’t as good as it needed to be in Auckland,” Tipoki says.

“Maybe we got a bit star struck being on the big stage. Perhaps we were all waiting for others to get stuck in before we all individually did. Whatever it was, our attitude and our desire weren’t at the levels they needed to be at. They were against Queensland… and you can see what a difference it made!”

But Tipoki echoes coach Robbie Deans when he says that despite the victory, hard work remains.

“Our discipline is not as good as it needs to be. We gave away too many penalties, and that is something that could hurt us down the track.”

“It’s just a trust thing mainly,” Tipoki explains, “in that we’ve got to trust each other more, rather than hanging onto the ball for that split second too long, or committing the other fouls that are getting us off-sides with the refs.”

“We’re creating enough space for our outsides at times. It’s just about showing patience on the ball and not trying to do things too quickly,” he says.

In the absence of Dan Carter, the performance of new Crusaders fly-half Stephen Brett has been particularly notable. After two fine showings so far, it seems the Crusaders have a star in the making.

“He’s got a new nickname – the ‘Whiz kid’ – although he came up with that,” Tipoki jokes.

“No, he didn’t really, but it’s an appropriate name, for all of the confidence and composure that he has shown. He was an absolute class act against the Reds – and probably the difference between the two sides in the end, the way he just took control of the game. The scary thing is; he’s only going to get even better.”

The youth of the side is not something that Tipoki is concerned with.

“There’s no extra pressure with them [the All Blacks] being away,” Tipoki says.

“The expectations are huge anyway. That comes with the honour of wearing the Crusaders jersey. If opponents want to under-estimate us at all because those other guys are away, that’s fine by us. What having the All Black players away simply means, is that we’ll have to be operating at the full noise every week, but that’s the way it should be. All of the guys here are simply thriving on that challenge.”

365 Digital

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