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Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 09:42 UK

Crusaders proving doubters wrong says Jarrod Sammut

Jarrod Sammut has proved an inspirational signing for Crusaders.
Jarrod Sammut has proved an inspirational signing for Crusaders.

Jarrod Sammut says the Crusaders have been glad to prove the doubters wrong after securing a play-off place.

The Welsh side finished bottom in their Super League debut season last year but this term have blossomed under former Great Britain coach Brian Noble.

A nail-biting win over Hull KR secured eighth spot, booking a play-off clash at Huddersfield Giants on Saturday.

"Where we've come from to where we are now, we've never stopped believing in ourselves," said scrum-half Sammut.

"We haven't really had that many people get behind us at the start of the year and I think that's sort of a big thing for the boys.

"The coaching staff have really put their faith in us and when we've gone out on the field we've really just played football.

"The other teams sometimes may have taken us a little bit too lightly and we've managed to overcome big obstacles."

This season the Crusaders have won 12 games - four times as many as last season - including a famous 32-26 victory at Leeds Rhinos in June.

That came on the back of having to quit their former Bridgend home in favour of a new start in Wrexham following financial uncertainty.

Noble hails 'fabulous' Crusaders

Now the formidable obstacle of Huddersfield stand in the way of Crusaders reaching new heights in their Elimination Play-off.

Crusaders lost 30-12 at the Galpharm Stadium in the regular season, while the Giants came away from the Racecourse Ground with a 38-10 victory.

But Sammut believes that regular season results count for very little when it comes to knock-out games.

"Going against Huddersfield we're not going to take them lightly, they're a very strong team with some great players and we definitely need to bring our form," the 23-year-old told BBC Sport Wales.

"Anything can happen in finals football, it's completely different game and on the day it just depends on which team turns up better.

"It's my first time playing finals football, so it's a real big thing.

"Talking about... the club, it's the first time we've actually made the finals, we've only been in the Super League for the past two years so that's a massive achievement in itself.

"It's definitely a motivating factor for the reason why we play the game.

"You want to be here at this end of the season and we've got the opportunity now to play and be a part of it, so we want to make the most of it.

"It just comes back to the hard work that the boys have put together throughout the year, especially the coaching staff, but I think it's a reward that's well earned."

I'm starting to play exciting football like I once used to when I was a little boy

Crusaders scrum-half Jarrod Sammut

Sammut - Australian-born but a dual-code Maltese international - signed for Crusaders from NRL side Penrith Panthers last April on a two-and-a-half year deal.

He has proved an inspirational signing and it was Sammut's late try - breaking almost the length of the pitch to score against Hull KR - that helped secure Saturday's Giants showdown.

Sammut says the lure of playing under Noble, who replaced John Dixon as Crusaders coach, was a major factor in deciding to come halfway around the world to play his rugby.

"Just to be coached by Brian Noble was a really good opportunity for me, I might not get that opportunity again," Sammut said.

"His achievements that he's got over the years I think is a big factor that a lot of players would love the opportunity to be coached under him and I jumped at that opportunity.

"Now that I'm here I feel my game has taken over a new lease and I'm starting to play exciting football like I once used to when I was a little boy."

There is speculation that Noble may step down from his Crusaders role once the season ends, with assistant and Wales coach Iestyn Harris taking over, but Sammut seems set to continue as Crusaders' on-field general for a while longer yet.

Noble has no fresh injury worries ahead of Saturday's clash and has named an unchanged 19-man squad.

Jamie Thakray and Rocky Trimarchi missed out against Hull KR, but will be hoping for a recall against the Giants.

Crusaders squad to face Huddersfield Giants (at Galpharm Stadium,1545 BST): Nick Youngquest, Tony Martin, Vince Mellars, Jarrod Sammut, Ryan O'Hara, Lincoln Withers, Mark Bryant, Weller Hauraki, Jason Chan, Rocky Trimarchi, Luke Dyer, Tommy Lee, Frank Winterstein, Adam Peek, Jamie Thakray, Jordan James, Peter Lupton, Clinton Schifcofske, Rhys Hanbury.

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see also
Huddersfield 18-12 Crusaders
11 Sep 10 |  My Club
Super League play-off verdict
11 Sep 10 |  My Club
Noble plays down quit speculation
07 Sep 10 |  Crusaders
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League

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