Final crusade for super Dean - Emirates24|7

Final crusade for super Dean

The Waratahs and Crusader players clash in the Super 14 final on Saturday (GETTY IMAGES)

As the Crusaders and Waratahs face off in a classic showdown for the Super 14 rugby crown tomorrow Crusaders coach Robbie Deans promised: "It's going to be an epic."

In a match laden with All Blacks and Wallabies, Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tuynman sees the final as one for the purists with the two best packs in the competition vying for supremacy to lay the platform for victory.

"There's no question that the battle up front is going to be huge and it's going to go a long way to deciding who finishes on top," he said.

The Crusaders and Waratahs have proved themselves the two best teams in the competition this year, as demonstrated by their overwhelming superiority in the semi-finals.

The clash carries more than the usual emotion of a grand final as Deans signs off a stellar nine years as the Crusaders' coach in which they have been the Super champions four times and beaten finalists twice.

It's also the end of the road for the most successful Waratahs' coach Ewen McKenzie, but unlike Deans who crosses the Tasman to become the new Wallabies coach, McKenzie does not have a job to go to.

Both sides have made one change to their semi-final winning line-ups, both of them at hooker.

Ti'i Paulo suits up at No 2 for the Crusaders after Corey Flynn broke his arm when the Crusaders beat the Wellington Hurricanes 33-22.

It is better news for the Waratahs, with the return of first choice hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau after a hand injury ruled him out of their semi-final when they beat the Sharks 28-13.

Two players likely to be central to the outcome are the Crusaders flyhalf Daniel Carter and the Waratahs line-out giant Daniel Vickerman. Carter showed in the semi-final against the Hurricanes that he is back to his best after five weeks sidelined through an ankle injury.

With his tactical kicking, tackling and running with the ball, he neutralised the 'Canes strong points and exploited their weaknesses.

"Vicks [Vickerman] will be trouble for them if their hooker is not up to the throwing," said Waratahs flanker Rocky Elsom.

"It's not just a couple of throws, but getting it right for the whole game. Once you miss a throw you start to second guess yourself."

History is against the Waratahs with their only win from eight matches in Christchurch coming five years ago when they thumped the Crusaders 43-19. The losses include the 2002 drubbing 19-96, the 2005 Super 12 final 25-35 and this year's round robin match 7-35.

"We haven't had a good track record here, but it means very little come Saturday [tomorrow]. So we're not intimidated by that record," said captain Phil Waugh.

Crusaders half-back Andy Ellis said that during training this week they have spent "more time on the computer terminal" analysing the Sydney sides' playing style and formulating a game plan.

"It's more of a mental approach, building slowly and being ready to fire." (AFP)
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