Berne eyes Waratahs five-eighth jumper - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Berne eyes Waratahs five-eighth jumper

By Melissa Woods 11/02/2004 10:08:05 PM Comments (0)

Shaun Berne has the NSW Waratahs five-eighth jersey sewn up for the Super 12 kick-off unless veteran Wallaby Matt Burke can produce a miracle recovery from a shoulder injury.

Tim Donnelly, the third contender to fill the troublesome position, failed to make the most of his opportunity as the Waratahs fell to Super 12 champions the Auckland Blues 24-5 in their final trial at Aussie Stadium.

Donnelly was solid in the face of rushing midfield defence by the Blues in his 62 minutes on the field, but didn't provide the necessary innovation and spark for his star-studded backline.

Berne, the NSW incumbent, did better in his limited time on the field, throwing a slick pass to reserve flanker Matt Hodgson with eight minutes remaining for the Waratahs' sole try.

NSW coach Ewen McKenzie said Burke, who injured his shoulder in their first trial against the Chiefs last month, was yet to do any contact training.

His last chance to impress is playing for Sydney against the Brumby Runners in Canberra on Sunday, but he is very doubtful which will put him out of contention for their first Super 12 match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on February 21.

"He is still under some cloud, the shoulder's improving but he's still got some pain there," McKenzie said.

"I guess in the next 48 hours we'll have a much better picture there ... if he doesn't play on Sunday he's only played 20-30 minutes of football so far so that's a big gamble.

"He's obviously a very talented players but he's a player exploring a new position so that would be a reasonable quantum leap."

Although it was only a trial, the Waratahs' handling was a disappointment, as was the failure of their backline to make any decent breaks in front of an impressive crowd of 14,749.

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