London – Australia great Michael Lynagh said Friday he expected the Crusaders would win the Super Rugby southern hemisphere tournament and provide fresh proof of world champions New Zealand's global dominance.
The Canterbury club are led by All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and have another New Zealand star in fly-half Dan Carter masterminding their back play.
“I think the Stormers (from South Africa) might (beat the Rebels) tomorrow (Saturday) and then because they'll be playing at home (in the play-offs), that's a big advantage,” Lynagh, looking well following his shock stroke, told British satellite broadcaster Sky Sports here on Friday.
“The Brumbies (from Australia) have had a wonderful year but I just think they've reached their end, they've made the play-offs and they've got a good coach in Jake White but I don't know whether they've got the team.
“For me, it's still the Crusaders – I said that at the start of the year and I'll stick to that.
“All the New Zealand teams are playing at a level above everyone else.”
Meanwhile Lynagh said he expected England fly-half Danny Cipriani, now with Premiership side Sale, to be a better player for his experience with the Melbourne Rebels, whom he joined after his international career stalled.
“We've seen him do brilliant things on the rugby field and some not-so-brilliant things on the rugby field and off the rugby field.
“Him now coming back to England to try and play well for Sale and also get back in the England reckoning will be quite important for him.
“I think the rugby experience, and experience of a different culture and way of playing the game will be very educational and very good for him and I expect to see him come back a better player for it.”
Former Wallaby fly-half Lynagh, Australia's record points scorer, spent two weeks in hospital in his native Brisbane after suffering a stroke in April.
It meant the 48-year-old lost some of the vision in his left eye but he insisted: “I'm very lucky.
“I think being relatively healthy and younger, it certainly helped in my recovery,” added Lynagh, who ended his rugby career with English Premiership club Saracens before settling in the UK and starting out as a rugby broadcaster.
Reflecting on his experience, Lynagh said: “I've certainly learnt a lot about strokes and the recovery of them, and how it affects young people Ä and older people of course.
“I've become very involved in the Stroke Association and a number of other charities, both here and in Australia, and also the hospital (the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital) in Australia which was fantastic for me.
“It's an illness that one needs to understand, and also understand the symptoms to try and help people when you see it happening, to get them to a hospital quickly.
“That's what happened to me and I'm very grateful.”
Lynagh won 72 caps for Australia in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was a member of the Wallabies' Grand Slam-winning team during a tour of Britain and Ireland in 1984, and a key player in Australia's 1991 World Cup win.
Lynagh captained Australia from 1993 to 1995 and held the world points scoring record with 911 when he retired, a tally that remains a Wallaby record. – Sapa-AFP