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Relaxed Funnell ready for opportunities

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Sportal.co.nz     13 Mar 2014     Getty Images

However, if ever a reminder was needed that nothing should ever be taken for granted in Investec Super Rugby the Crusaders can reflect on their only other visit to Melbourne which resulted in a surprise 28-19 loss two seasons ago.

At least after a win at home last year, and the knowledge of what to expect in Victoria, the Crusaders have every reason to be wary. Add to that a hefty loss in Perth at the weekend for the Rebels there is extra cause to be on guard.

Crusaders hooker Ben Funnell said before leaving that there was plenty of excitement in the side about the chance to claim four more points.

They had restored the balance between the sides last year with a sound win but heading to Melbourne was an example of the challenge that all teams face knowing their opponents are all capable of upsets.

It was early days yet in the competition but it had been good for the side to get a win last week over the Stormers.

"It was good for our confidence but we always felt we were on the right track. The Chiefs was a close game and against the Blues we didn't perform as well as we wanted. Then we ground out a win over the Stormers.

"The Rebels have done well with tries scored and metres gained according to the statistics so we will have to match that ability from them through our defence," he said.

While playing second fiddle to Corey Flynn, Funnell was happy with his pre-season where he had been working on a few parts of his game and has gained the start against the Rebels. Like most front rowers he has been having to react to the different demands made on bodies with the new scrum laws and he said the whole body system was affected.

Whereas it had been a case of walking over the ball after the engagement in the past there was more of a stalemate involved now before the ball was cleared.

However, he felt he was coping with the extra pressure involved and was looking to take every opportunity that came his way in the season ahead.

Not satisfied with having contributed to the ITM Cup successes the Canterbury side he plays for has enjoyed, he wants to win a Super Rugby championship.

"It's a different competition to the ITM and really tough. It is a case of backing up every week," he said.

Funnell said he was enjoying the career of a professional rugby player with such a proud franchise.

"It's good getting out and playing with your mates," he said.