Vickerman back for Waratahs' finals push - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Vickerman back for Waratahs' finals push

Darren Walton 22/05/2011 03:28:53 PM Comments (0)

Former Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman is waiting in the wings and ready for a timely Super Rugby comeback in a major boost to the NSW Waratahs' playoff hopes.

Vickerman has spent the past three years studying economics at Cambridge University, but is due to return home to Australia in the next two weeks.

The fifth-placed Waratahs left for South Africa on Sunday for pivotal games against the Sharks and Bulls, after climbing to fifth spot with a 29-12 bonus-point victory over the Lions on Saturday night.

Coach Chris Hickey was targeting at least one win in the Republic to ensure the Waratahs retained control of their finals destiny, and hoping Vickerman's impending return would lift the side.

"We're expecting to see Dan Vickerman the week we get back from South Africa," Hickey told AAP on Sunday.

"Given our injury situation, it's pretty handy to have him come back into the squad.

"He's pretty fit, he's in good shape, so he'll certainly be an option for us once we return from South Africa."

A veteran of two World Cup campaigns and 52 Tests for Australia, 31-year-old Vickerman has been playing for Northampton in the Heineken Cup for the past two seasons.

"Pete McDonald, our strength and conditioning coach, has been in touch with him and all reports are that he's fit and healthy and ready to go," Hickey said.

"It's certainly a bonus for us at this point of the season."

With four rounds remaining before the finals, the Waratahs are just two points ahead of the seventh-placed Sharks and five clear of the eighth-placed Bulls.

"The South African leg is always a difficult leg, with the travel and particularly playing two of the top sides over there in the Sharks and the Bulls," Hickey said.

"It's pretty simple: We've got to come back from there with a win.

"If we can do that and come back and have the Highlanders and Brumbies here as home games, then we give ourselves every chance of playing in the finals series.

"If you don't pick up that win in Africa, it means that your fate then is in other people's hands, which may go your way. It may not."

Only 14,123 people - the lowest crowd in NSW's 15-year Super Rugby history - were on hand to see the Waratahs respond to Thursday night's savaging at a fan forum with a five-try first half against the Lions.

Although the hosts were kept scoreless in the second half, Hickey was pleased the Tahs were able to turn on a show for their loyal fans and relieved not to pick up any more injuries.

"We've come through pretty well," he said.

There was some concern for Berrick Barnes after he suffered another head knock, his third this season, but the playmaker was cleared to make the trip to South Africa.

"He's fine," Hickey said. "No issues there at all."

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