Cheika welcomes underdogs tag

Date published: July 29 2014

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says the two past Super Rugby Finals lost to the Crusaders have no bearing on Saturday's clash.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says that the franchise's two previous Super Rugby Finals lost to the Crusaders have no bearing on Saturday's clash.

Despite the 'Tahs impressive season, which saw them top the regular season standings and finishing with competition's best attacking and defensive stats, some pundits rate the Crusaders as favourites for this weekend's decider in Sydney.

Indeed, the Waratahs' record of 11 consecutive loses to the Crusaders is difficult to ignore.

Most bookmakers have the Waratahs, who are on an eight-match unbeaten run, as marginal favourites but plenty of chatter from across Tasman Sea suggests the Crusaders are headed for their eighth title.

“I would have expected that's how they would have thought,” Cheika said on Tuesday.

“I suppose probably part of our history has tended them to lead to that conclusion, that we won't deliver on the day.

“But I suppose we've been told now for a while.

“Everyone thought we'd fall over at some stage.

“We'll just go out there and play as we have all season, the best we possibly can.

“We'll try and play really attacking footy and see if we can give them some trouble.

“Usually we're trying to play for [the underdog] status, they are just giving it to us perfectly.

“We don't even have to worry about it, we don't even have to fight for it.

“I'm not insulted. They are the ones who have been in the finals the last 11 years or whatever.”

The Crusaders have not won the title since beating the Waratahs in the 2008 final but Cheika doubted the Crusaders would be haunted by demons of past failures, having lost in a semi-final or final every subsequent year.

“I doubt it very highly, you get a certain air of confidence when you are continually in the finals,” said the coach.

The Australian have played in two previous finals, losing both away to the Crusaders, but Cheika didn't intend broaching that subject with his players.

“What's the relevance?” said Cheika.

“It's not even worth addressing last week at this stage because that's over.

“You've got to stop taking the pats on the back and reading all the good things, even though they are nice.

“Just focus on the challenge that's going to come up on Saturday night.”