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    Wilson: Crusaders to win S15

    2014-07-22 14:09
    Cape Town - Former All Black and Highlanders wing Jeff Wilson has predicted that the Crusaders will win this year's Super Rugby competition.

    Wilson, in a column on the Sydney Morning Herald's website, said he expects a Waratahs-Crusaders final in Sydney on August 2.

    Wilson made little mention in his piece of the Sharks and Brumbies' hopes of claiming upset away victories in Saturday's semi-finals.

    He acknowledged that the top-of-the-table Waratahs deserved to be the bookies' favourites to win the competition.

    However, he believes the "All Blacks factor" will prove pivotal in the showpiece match.

    "The Waratahs may be the bookmakers' and logical man's favourite but they're not mine," Wilson wrote.

    "I believe the Crusaders will win this competition - even if they have to travel to Sydney and beat the 'Tahs on their home turf to achieve it. And in saying that, I mean no disrespect to the Waratahs at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    "In previous years, Kiwi fans have tended to deride the Waratahs as 'March premiers'. They always start a season well and threaten but invariably seem to fall over at the business end when the most is on the line. I sense a tougher beast this time around.

    "There are less weaknesses than the past. They can still have the odd hiccup at lineout time but the key reason they have improved this season is they finally have the right people in the right places.

    "But on the presumption they were to meet the Crusaders in the final - and that's not a presumption any sane man should be making this far out - they would run into the same psychological challenge many of those players face when they don a green and gold jersey and take on the All Blacks. That is knowing you are facing a remorseless and tight bunch of players who believe in each other, their jersey and their ability to prevail no matter what.

    "NSW know this Crusaders side is full of All Blacks. In fact, only about one of them isn't. And he's a winger (Nemani Nadolo), who plays for Fiji and isn't a half bad player in his own right!

    "I look at the Crusaders and see an All Blacks mentality, which is why they are my favourites."

    Leading South African bookmakers, BetFlash, have made the Waratahs 23/20 favourites to win the title, followed by the Crusaders (31/20), with the Sharks (7/1) and Brumbies (15/2) as rank outsiders.

    In Saturday's first semi-final in Christchurch, the Crusaders host the Sharks (09:35 SA time), while the Waratahs duel with the Brumbies in Sydney (11:40).

    CLICK HERE to read Jeff Wilson's full column on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

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