Semi-final hosting rights within reach for Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs can finish as high as second on the Super Rugby ladder but if they can't go into the finals with winning momentum, they aren't even worthy of a playoffs spot.

That's the view of Waratahs flanker Will Miller ahead of NSW's clash with the Sunwolves at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

Wins against the Sunwolves and the Brumbies at home in the final two regular season matches would secure the Waratahs second spot overall, with the Lions on a bye this weekend, and hosting rights for the first two weeks of finals, for the first time since 2015. 

The Waratahs may yet be joined by the Rebels in the playoffs, with a Rebels needing a win over the Reds to all but secure them a finals berth, and set up a likely quarter-final in Christchurch against the Crusaders.

How ever the ladder shakes out, Waratahs flanker Will Miller said only victories in their final two games would prove they were worthy of a place in the knockout stages.

“If we can't win our last two games, then we probably don't deserve to be there, so we may as well try and win those and see where we finish up and keep going through the season, hopefully,” he said.

Forwards coach Simon Cron said he felt the team deserved to be in the finals, but momentum would be key going into the playoffs.

“Do they deserve to be there? I believe so at the moment, but I think success breeds success,” he said.

“If you're going to make finals, you want to go in there winning because you've got to play 10 seconds at a time and every moment of that game's critical and the big games, the big moments like you saw on the weekend if we make errors we can really get crucified.

“I think going into finals, we're not there yet - our focus is Sunwolves and we've got to be better against the Sunwolves than we were against the Rebels.”

Israel Folau won't be shying away from the aerial contest. Photo: Getty ImagesIsrael Folau is likely to be the only change to the Waratahs side to face the Sunwolves on Saturday night, and Cron said he wouldn’t be shying away from any aerial challenges on his return from suspension.

“Izzy'll be back and jumping, he's an athlete, there's no doubts about that,” he said

“I think Izzy won't change. He's going to go for the ball and when he's going for the ball, I'm sure it'll be fine.

“I think the referees and TMOs and touch judges, to be fair, if you asked them, I'd take a wild guess and say they agree.

“For us, it's pretty clear - if two guys are competing for the ball in the air, they're going for the ball, that's fine.

“It's a different story if someone grabs someone, it affects them, but that's not what we saw.”

The Waratahs host the Sunwolves at Allianz Stadium on Saturday July 7, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.