Waratahs ready for finals - anywhere - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waratahs ready for finals - anywhere

Darren Walton 17/06/2011 04:04:01 PM Comments (0)

The NSW Waratahs have booked flights to five potential finals destinations across the southern hemisphere, convinced the Brumbies won't end their Super Rugby season on Saturday night.

Depending on a series of results in a huge last round of home-and-away fixtures this weekend, the Waratahs could end up having to travel to Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Auckland or Nelson for their sudden-death "qualifier".

There is even a small chance the seventh-placed Waratahs could yet host a playoff in Sydney next week if they score a big bonus-point win over the Brumbies.

All coach Chris Hickey cares about, though, is actually reaching the business end of the competition.

The usually mild-mannered mentor on Friday bristled when asked if the Waratahs were ready to deliver Melbourne-bound Wallabies star Kurtley Beale and retiring stalwart Al Baxter fitting farewells in the Waratahs' apparent final home game for the season at ANZ Stadium.

"Look, we've still got three or four games to play yet, so these blokes aren't leaving," Hickey snapped.

"This will just be perhaps their last game they'll play in Sydney. I'm sure those guys will want to go out on a high note.

"But, from our point of view, we're really preparing for the next three or four games. It's not a send-off for anybody.

"In many ways, I guess our finals campaign starts on Saturday night."

Indeed, the only certainty is that the Waratahs can't possibly clash with Queensland in round one of the playoffs because the front-running Reds are guaranteed a top-two finish and, with that, next weekend off and then a home semi-final.

It's hush hush, but NSW could even squeeze into the finals if they lose to the Brumbies by less than eight points and there is a one-sided result in the pivotal match in Pretoria on Sunday morning between the fifth-placed Bulls and sixth-placed Sharks.

History has proven it is virtually impossible to win the Super Rugby title after travelling to SouthAfrica and avoiding the Republic during the finals remains the Waratahs' best-case scenario.

As unlikely as it might seem, the dream run for the Waratahs would be playing and beating the Blues in Auckland next week, then upsetting the Reds in Brisbane before taking down the Crusaders in the final in Nelson on July 9.

First and foremost, the Waratahs must conquer the fired-up and in-form Brumbies on Saturday night.

"You don't expect any favours from any of the Australian sides," Hickey said.

"The local derbies have been a real feature of this Super Rugby competition and the competitiveness between the Brumbies and the Waratahs goes back many years.

"So it's a game that we've got to be good enough to get out there and win."

After a highly disappointing campaign, the Brumbies stunned the Reds, then beat the Rebels last start and will be desperate themselves to send France-bound captain Matt Giteau and Waratahs-bound utility Adam Ashley-Cooper off in style.

"It's a huge game," Waratahs captain Phil Waugh said.

"Similar circumstances to last week. If we win, we go through. If we lose, it will be our last game for the year so (there is) a lot on the line.

"They'll have a lot of motivation too. It's their last game of the season as well and they'll be motivated to come to Sydney and upset our plans.

"We've just got to make sure we turn up from kick-off."

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