Reds coach Ewan McKenzie does not think that the extra travelling the Crusaders have had to do this year will negatively affect their performance in the Final, in fact he thinks it might give them the edge.
The Crusaders have not played a single match in their home city of Christchurch this season due to the earthquakes that have ravaged the area, and their stadium. But the Reds boss believes that the hardships they have experienced makes them particularly dangerous this weekend.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "The travel schedule sounds bad, but I also believe the Crusaders have profited greatly by the amount of time they have spent together.
"As much as it has been difficult, I do believe there is a benefit from a team point of view. You can't spend that amount of time on planes and sitting in hotel rooms or buses, and not profit from it," he added.
The team from Canterbury were certainly highly motivated for their semifinal clash with the Stormers in Cape Town last week and blew the Cape franchise off the park with a focused display.
This has lead some to suggest that they will battle to match that intensity this weekend after another long distance journey, but McKenzie is expecting them to be at their best this weekend.
"It enhances the camaraderie, and I'm sure they have bonded really well. You can see that. Just look at the way they played against the Stormers last weekend, which was outstanding. Hopefully they have already played their best footy, but I suspect they've still got a bit up their sleeve," he said.
If the Reds are to beat the Crusaders for the second time this season then the mercurial Quade Cooper will have to have another stand-out game, similar to his dominant performance against the Blues last weekend.
McKenzie said that he has been particularly impressed with the way that the freakishly skilful playmaker's game has developed in the course of the season.
He commented: "Quade's definitely a better footballer than he was 12 months ago. He has a far broader range of skills now. He has the X-factor, which everyone marvels at. But he is also much better at making decisions around when and where, and can control a game pretty well. He's a good talker, and likes our system of play, because there is a lot of opportunity in it."
Some have suggested that Cooper's laidback attitude and willingness to take risks under pressure may backfire in the cauldron of a Final but McKenzie has plenty of faith in the Wallaby flyhalf's ability to adapt his game.
"It doesn't just revolve around taking big risks. He can also close it down. You just have to look at the field goal he kicked at the end of the Blues game. We needed to be more than two scores up, and we had worked hard on the field goal strategy when required. And that was a good time to pop one over. He set it up and got it done," he explained.
McKenzie also dismissed suggestions that his side rely too heavily on Cooper, and explained that his side's table-topping season was a collective effort.
He said: "While he creates opportunities and sets up tries, which is hard to replace, there are also a lot of other players in the team who contribute."
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