Crusaders prop Joe Moody voiced his “deep-seated hatred” of the Chiefs this week, saying he has always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder when it came to facing the Hamilton-based club.
“I guess it’s part of the way they play and a little bit of a niggle and everything that they bring as well. I think it probably just makes everyone really want to go hard and put one over them,” Moody told NZME earlier this week.
Speaking to media today, Gatland said his squad were well aware of Moody’s comments.
“I found the comments really interesting,” Gatland said. “I wanted to thank Joe because it saved me having to do a team talk. Everyone’s been speaking about it in the last day or so. I made a joke to (Chiefs prop) Nepo Laulala, saying ‘obviously Joe Moody doesn’t rate you very highly’.
“To me, I see it as a sign of respect. Obviously the Chiefs have been able to get under their skin and the Chiefs have had some victories over them in the past and they don’t like it.”
The Crusaders have lost only twice in their past 12 matches against New Zealand Super Rugby sides, both times to the Chiefs – the most recent in February when the Chiefs claimed a 25-15 win in Hamilton.
This weekend, the Chiefs travel to Christchurch looking for a change of fortunes after back-to-back losses to begin their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, while the Crusaders will look to back up an impressive win over the Hurricanes in their first match of the season.
As is the case with most New Zealand derbies, the Crusaders and Chiefs have played out some close, entertaining and physical matches over the years, and Gatland said Moody’s comments suggested more of the same on Sunday afternoon.
“I just think, to me, it’s a positive and it’s a message that we’re going to go down there and be positive in the way that we play and not back off and have everything their own way which they like to do.
“I loved it; I thought it was brilliant. I don’t know where it’s come from but it’s definitely given our players something to talk about, so thank you to Joe for those words.”
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