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McKenzie: We won't be bullied
Cape Town - You’re not going to bully us.
This was the message from the Reds camp to the Stormers on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby match at Newlands.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said that they had taken note of reports that the Stormers would get the better of them up front.
“I know from what you guys (the media) have been writing the talk is about the Stormers up front and about what they are going to do to us. However, we handled it last year and are looking forward to the challenge,” said McKenzie.
The Reds were one of five teams that managed to beat the Stormers last year. The others were the Brumbies, Western Force, Sharks and Bulls.
This year the Stormers are unbeaten after six games and they have already beaten the Force, Sharks and Bulls. They also physically dominated their opponents in those games.
However, like the Stormers, the Reds are a team that have woken up from a slumber in recent years and are looking for their fifth victory in a row this Saturday.
“Last year was a good one after the Reds had struggled for several years and the expectations are higher now. We were happy to carry those expectations into the season,” said McKenzie.
It does not concern him that some of his young players won’t be familiar with Newlands.
“I have been coming here for 20 years. Newlands is incredible when it’s full, but it’s our job to silence the crowd so that it’s not that intimidating,” said McKenzie.
“This team is also out to make history. We have been breaking hoodoos the past 16 months and there is no reason we can’t have a crack and win here.”
McKenzie believes his team will be prepared for any tactical eventuality.
“We will adapt, whether the rugby is structured or unstructured. This team has developed the ability to adapt.”
Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot played with Reds defence coach Matt Taylor for Edinburgh Reivers in Scotland.
“They are the most physical Australian team and take pride in being regarded as the rough boys of Australian rugby,” said Proudfoot.
“Matt was an uncompromising openside flank and that’s indicative of the approach that Ewen McKenzie wants from his side.”