Crusaders heading into the unknown

THE Crusaders are one of the few teams that have not lost to the Waratahs this year.

That's because tomorrow night's Super Rugby final in Sydney will be the sides' first clash this season.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said he believed that was a good thing, despite his team not getting a chance to snap the eight-game winning streak of the Tahs during the regular season.

"There is an unknown element given that we haven't played the Waratahs so far this year, but that goes for both teams," he said.

"We know we have the game of our lives ahead of us, but we are not daunted by the challenge; we are looking forward to it."

Both teams have named unchanged line-ups for the clash, with blindside flanker and All Black Richie McCaw included for the Crusaders.

He returned from a month off with fractured ribs and was highly impressive in his team's 38-6 win over the Sharks in the semi-final last Saturday night.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said he was in awe of the toughness shown by McCaw who has also overcome a broken thumb this year. But the 33-year-old said the heroics would mean nothing if his team lost the final.

"You can do whatever you like during the season, but if you don't perform when it counts then you're like the rest of the teams," he said.

The Waratahs are set to play in front of a record Super Rugby crowd, with 50,000 tickets already sold.