Little poised to stay with Waratahs
May 11, 2000

New South Wales rugby captain Jason Little is poised to give the battling Waratahs a major boost by signing up for one more season.

The classy Wallabies three-quarter will lead NSW out against the third-placed Highlanders on Friday in their final match of a troubled Super 12 campaign and at the end of a tumultuous week. Following a rebellion by some senior players, Waratahs coach Ian Kennedy earlier this week sought and received a vote of confidence from the NSW board.

But Little claimed the players, and especially himself, accepted full responsibility for the team's woes. NSW head into the game in ninth spot having won only four of its 10 matches.

Little, who comes off contract this year, is reportedly being chased by overseas teams and said today he was "speaking to a few people at the moment" and was "just trying to organise a few things". However, Little said he was definitely tempted to have one more year with the Waratahs because he didn't want to finish on a bad note and felt they were capable of doing much better.

"I see great potential within our side, I think we've got great players there, we're seeing some positives with the young blokes coming on," Little said. "And I think it's a fantastic organisation and a tremendous group of players and that's why I'd like to try and get it right next year."

Assessing the Waratahs youngsters, Little predicted it was "only a matter of time" before rookie back rowers Phil Waugh and David Lyons made the Test team. Little said the players had spoken about taking full responsibility for their on-field performance even though Kennedy had been singled out for scrutiny and criticised by some of the Waratahs.

"Speed (Kennedy) is not out there making tackles, taking the ball forward or whatever, he's not the one over throwing the lineout, that's us and we have to take responsibility for that, or me personally as well," Little said. "It hasn't been an ideal week, obviously with what's happened, but I'm glad it was dealt with early in the week and hopefully things can fall into place for us."

No team representing the Otago region has beaten NSW for 99 years and the Waratahs are the only Super 12 team the Highlanders have never beaten. A win would guarantee the Highlanders a semi-final spot, but a loss could put them out of the top four.

"Our destiny is totally in our hands and that's the bonus. If we win, we're in," Highlanders coach Peter Sloane said.

NSW: Matt Burke, Scott Staniforth, Matt Dowling, Jason Little (capt), Nathan Grey, Christian Warner, Chris Whitaker, David Lyons, Phil Waugh, Stu Pinkerton, Tom Bowman, John Welborn, Jason Reilly, Brendan Cannon, Phil Harry. Res: Marc Stcherbina, Manuel Edmonds, Sam Payne, Tiaan Strauss, Peter Besseling, Rod Moore, Mark Crick.

HIGHLANDERS: Jeff Wilson, Marc Ellis, Romi Ropati, Rua Tipoki, Pita Alatini, Tony Brown, Byron Kelleher, Taine Randell (capt), Josh Kronfeld, Simon Maling, Brendon Timmins, Kelvin Middleton, Carl Hoeft, Anton Oliver, Joe McDonnell. Res: Brendan Laney, Karl Tenana, Brett McCormack, Paul Miller, Samiu Vahafolau, Carl Hayman, Tom Willis.

Brought to you by AAP

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