SYDNEY - Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder says it would be a huge mistake to regard the NSW pack as the soft underbelly of the Waratahs going into tonight's Super Rugby final.
Former All Blacks forward Craig Dowd used that derogatory term to describe the Waratahs forwards in his internet column and predicted the Crusaders would target the NSW pack.
While Blackadder said the set pieces were a strength of his side, he stressed they wouldn't fall into the trap of agreeing with Dowd's slur.
"We're too smart," he said.
"We know that the Waratahs aren't the side that they are because they've got a soft underbelly.
"They haven't shown that all year. I think psychology-wise that would be a huge mistake.
"That's not the murmurings within our camp. If anything, we're too respectful.
"I think if you respect your opponent you will prepare well."
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu said they had worked hard on the set pieces this week and weren't fretting about being targeted in those areas.
"It doesn't worry me at all," Kepu said.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read disagreed with other members of the Kiwi camp who believe the Waratahs surrendered home advantage by playing the final at ANZ Stadium rather than their much smaller regular base of Allianz Stadium.
"They've got even more people screaming for them," said Read.
NSW officials are confident of drawing a Super Rugby record crowd of over 55,000.
Read was more intent on focusing on the Crusaders' said rate of improvement through the season, which he believed had his side in good stead for the finale.
"It's important that we don't just stop now. You've got to improve again," Read said.
"We'll have to be better this week than we were last week and we've got to put our best game out there this week if we want to win."