New South Wales Waratahs centre Ryan Cross has set himself in the firing line of former Western Force teammates, declaring they still haven’t learnt to win close matches.
Cross comes up against the Super Rugby franchise where he spent the previous four seasons when the two teams clash in Perth on Saturday night.
The Force go into the match on the back of a devastating 26-25 loss to newcomers Melbourne Rebels and for Cross that result brings back memories of his time in Western Australia.
“We had the same problem when I was there … we just couldn’t shut out those games,” said Cross, who was the Force’s player of the year in 2008.
“When it does become close I think they start to become nervous and not sure of what to do.
“That’s the sort of habit they’ve got into, they get a bit nervous and don’t know how to shut out the game.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of that this week.”
The Force lost their opening match this season to Queensland Reds 21-20 and in round four shared the points with the Blues in a 22-all thriller.
Former rugby league star Cross said it was very different at the Waratahs, who are coming off a hard-fought 23-16 home victory over the Chiefs after an even tighter 29-22 away win over the Brumbies.
“I think it’s the total opposite here, it’s a bit more of a winning culture,” he said.
“The Waratahs know how to shut out games and they’ve got some really good experience in key positions and I think that’s the difference.”
Cross, who is filling in for the injured Rob Horne after starting the year on the bench, was happy to be getting extended game time.
“Coming off the bench wasn’t something I was used to … I’m just trying to improve every week, hopefully things can keep improving,” Cross said.
“I’m glad to be starting … I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of weeks.”
Cross admitted the Waratahs had been below par recently despite winning, but believed they were moving in the right direction.
“We’re definitely not playing our best but as long as we keep winning and keep building towards the end of the season, that’s all we can do,” he said.
Saturday night will mark a first for Cross in his footballing career.
“It’s the first time I’m playing against a team I used to play for, obviously I never did it playing league and I’ve never played against the Force but I’m looking forward to it,” Cross said.
by Buford Balony