Canterbury ready for tough night in Nelson

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Thursday, October 18, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Canterbury coach Joe Maddock said there was a near full-strength side available for selection in the game.


"We've been building nicely from where we started the competition against Tasman a few months ago. We've come a long way so we're pretty happy with where the squad's at," he said.

"We know we under-performed in round one and they were very good and deserved the win," he said.

But they hadn't been focusing on getting back to play against Tasman specifically in the playoffs. Rather it had been about getting into the top four.

"If you get here you've got a chance so now it's about us going out and performing as best we can and if the result goes our way, happy day," he said.

There was excitement around the fact they were contesting a semifinal but the selection of players in the All Blacks and wider All Blacks squad had also boosted excitement, especially after the announcement on Monday.
Looking at Tasman, Maddock felt their pack had dominated during the season which was a help but they had also been consistent throughout the competition. Their only slip-up had been against Auckland and they were a side with star players across the park which would require Canterbury to be at their best to have a crack at them to make the final.

He wasn't concerned at penalties conceded by returning All Blacks prop Joe Moody last week saying it was his first game back for a while and opponent Nepo Laulala was around 135kg which was hard work.

There were no restrictions on Moody's time on the park for the game so he would be out there until he ran out of wind, he said.

Wyatt Crockett's presence with Tasman had undoubtedly had an impact on their performance this year given his experience and he had gone home and led the group well.

Playing on the road was something Canterbury had shown they could do and with the Premiership having been a much tighter contest this year it was always likely that only two losses wouldn't be enough to ensure a home semifinal, he said.

The familiarity between players of both sides was inevitable as being part of the Crusaders region, and they played similar styles of games so the result would come down to the winner being the side that could execute best.