Waratahs out to do Brumbies a favour
By Scrum's Keiran Roberts
May 4, 2000
New South Wales may have self-destructed their Super 12 semi-final chances last week, but the underachieving Waratahs are looking to damage Canterbury Crusaders' hopes of making it a hattrick of titles this season.
The Waratahs buried their own finals' hopes when they failed to take advantage of playing with two extra men at times in bombing out 27-20 to Wellington Hurricanes at home last Saturday. Their last two games represent a chance for part-redemption after another erratic campaign, which so far has yielded just four wins and five losses.
The Waratahs could do the pacesetting ACT Brumbies a big favour by beating the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday. A NSW win and an ACT victory over Queensland in Canberra on Saturday would assure the Brumbies of top spot before their final round clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday week.
"We've obviously had a lot of criticism after our performance against the Hurricanes and it's a chance for us to regain some credibility and some respect," skipper Jason Little said. "We've had a very up and down series and played some fantastic football and some poor football."
The words of Queensland coach John Connolly earlier in the season of the 'perennial underachievers' have come back to haunt the Waratahs.
At least All Black pointscoring whiz Andrew Mehrtens won't be there on Friday to put the boot into the Waratahs after withdrawing with a rib injury to be replaced by New Zealand Colts star Aaron Mauger.
Mehrtens apart, two other changes have been made to the Crusaders side that equalled the tournament's try and points-scoring record against the hapless Northern Bulls last week.
All Black lock Norm Maxwell and fullback Leon MacDonald return from injury at the expense of Chris Jack and Daryl Gibson.