Getting there not much fun

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

MONTREAL -- It was a rough ride, er flight, for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

It took the better part of the day yesterday, but the Roughriders finally are here to prepare for today's Eastern semi-final game against the Montreal Alouettes at Olympic Stadium. The Roughriders did not practise.

"Hey, let's get it done, let's make no excuses," head coach Danny Barrett said.

"Let's take advantage of our opportunities. We need to go out and play like the team we know we are. The fact is we're here, we're as healthy as we could be right now and we're looking forward to the game."

QB CONTROVERSY

Barrett is keeping the identity of his starting quarterback secret until just before kickoff, when he will announces it on CBC, which is televising the game. Nealon Greene started the first nine game then, because of a head/neck injury, was replaced by Marcus Crandell, who subsequently returned to a backup role during the final regular-season game because of a finger injury.

"To me, it's not a big deal (who starts)," Barrett said. "Regardless of who we play, it's not what's going to change what they're going to do defensively. They are who they are and we are who we are, regardless of which quarterback plays."

ONGOING SMITH SAGA

Even though he is not playing, linebacker Trevis Smith is a topic of conversation. Barrett addressed a question about the future playing status of Smith, the linebacker who has been charged with aggravated sexual assault for allegedly infecting a woman with HIV. Smith is on the Roughriders' disability list for the second consecutive game. And even if the team beats Montreal today, Barrett couldn't address whether Smith would play a week today against Toronto.

MATTHEWS AND THE MEDIA

There is palpable friction between Als head coach Don Matthews and the Montreal media. He was asked if he expects to be back for a sixth consecutive season coaching the Als, regardless of how the team does in the playoffs.

"I'll be back," Matthews said. "My plan is to continue on with this football team. I'm still under contract. Absolutely."


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