Palu eyes Super Rugby title with Waratahs
March 28, 2014
Palu will celebrate his 100th Super Rugby game when the Waratahs take on the Sharks in Durban © Getty Images
Wycliff Palu can't quite believe he'll celebrate 100 Super Rugby games for NSW this weekend, but the Test star admits he stayed with the Waratahs to chase even greater spoils. Palu considered a big-money sabbatical in Japan between World Cups before recommitting to the Waratahs in the hope of landing an elusive Super title.
The 31-year-old two-time runner-up believes he has his best chance yet in 2014. Bookmakers' favourites for the first time, the Waratahs are shifting through the gears under second-year coach Michael Cheika, and Palu admits it's high time to deliver long-suffering fans some silverware.
"We've got a good team, a good roster - on paper," he said before Sunday morning's showdown with the ladder-leading Sharks in Durban. "Now it comes down to what we do on the field.
"But everyone understands the game plan better and the way the coaching staff want us to play and want us to train as well. Once you identify that, you can really attack and I think you're starting to see that more this year."
Palu will join an elite group headed by one-time Wallabies captain Phil Waugh to have chalked up 100 games for the Waratahs. The players' player in the Waratahs' first two games this year, the powerhouse No.8 started from the bench in last week's win over the Melbourne Rebels and can't wait to get stuck into the Sharks from the kick-off on Sunday morning (AEDT).
"You always want to be starting, but it was good to freshen up," he said. "The Sharks get a lot of momentum through their forward pack so, like with most South African sides, it's going to be a pretty tough game this week. If we're going to go close, we're going to have to front up in the pack."
Palu relishes torrid physical battles like this one is shaping up to be. "It's going to be pretty obvious in the first 10 minutes how the game is going to go," he said. "You have to take it up another notch. You just have to get up for these games in order to do well and not let them get on the front foot."
The Waratahs will be without attacking ace Israel Folau, but have been boosted by confirmation the tryscoring fullback will fly out for South Africa on Saturday morning after recovering from a swollen throat. Folau is likely to be available for next weekend's clash with the Stormers in Cape Town.