'It doesn't get much better than a sold out venue like Ellis Park,' says Todd
Crusaders loose forward Matt Todd is relishing the prospect of playing on a hard and fast Ellis Park surface in Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Lions‚ far departed from the torrid weather that's been dogging New Zealand.
With their superior forwards‚ the Crusaders were able to muscle past the Highlanders and the Chiefs in Christchurch but the Lions in Johannesburg will be a different proposition.
Not even the much vaunted prospect of lungs bursting because of altitude scares Todd.
While there hasn't been a team that's won a final in South Africa‚ Todd said anything can happen in a final.
The Crusaders scored 110 points in Pretoria and Bloemfontein this season in their hammerings of the Bulls and the Cheetahs in the round robin phase.
“It doesn't get much better than a sold out venue like Ellis Park‚" Todd said.
"It's going to be a massive occasion. We're confident and we go into this game on the back of some good form.
"We've had a good year and there's good belief in the team. We're ready for the challenge that awaits on Saturday.
“We usually come here and play at altitude at some point in the tournament. It's a mental thing. If you want to use it as an excuse‚ you can go ahead.
"We know it's going to be a tough game and we'll be hurting but altitude isn't going to have an impact on the game.”
Todd said the Lions are better than they were last year despite the team losing to the Hurricanes 20-3 in last year's final‚ but he feels the Crusaders also have a date with destiny.
After two finals disappointments against the Reds in 2011 and the Waratahs three years later‚ there's a feeling it has to be third time lucky for the Crusaders‚ who are one of only two teams who've won Super Rugby finals away from home.
While they did the three peat against the Blues‚ Highlanders and Brumbies at the end of the 20th century‚ the Highlanders are the only other team to have won a final away from home and that was in Wellington two years ago.
“The Lions are a quality team and we've been aware of their quality. I think they've kick on and become an even greater team this year.
"We know the challenge that awaits us and we need to be at our very best if we are to win the game‚” Todd said.
“We know the Crusaders have an excellent history and every time we pull on that jersey‚ we're cognisant of that history.
"We're a new and fresh group this year and we want to make our own piece of history.”