Waratahs not cruising into regular season finale

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs can not miss the 2018 finals but winger Taqele Naiyaravoro says they won’t be cruising through their final regular season match against the Brumbies.

A win over their fierce rivals would keep the Waratahs in second on the ladder, guaranteeing them hosting rights for the first two weeks of finals.

They currently sit three points ahead of South African leaders the Lions, with one game remaining, meaning just a victory over the Brumbies would be enough to lock in a big advantage.

That second spot, and the ability to stay at home as long as possible has proven invaluable in Super Rugby - just two teams have been crowned Super Rugby champions from outside the top two since the competition’s 1996 inception.

The Highlanders won from fourth in 2015, beating the Hurricanes in the final, but you have to go back to 1999 to find a final that included two teams from outside that top two, when the HIghlanders and Crusaders faced off in the decider.

Should positions remain the same after next week, the Waratahs would host a quarter-final against a travelling Jaguares side, with the possibility of hosting the Lions or the Highlanders should they make the semis.

Even without the carrot of that second-place finish, a win over the Brumbies would be critical for the Waratahs to take winning momentum into the playoffs, Naiyaravoro said.

“I think it is even though on the points we are in now, it doesn't give the pleasure to be comfortable now,” he said.

“I think we're on  a roll now and why not try and get the win.

“Worst thing you lose, you'll still keep us up there but (we don't want to lose).”

The Waratahs have won their past three matches in a row and one more would equal their longest run this season heading into the knock-out playoffs.

“I think it just gives us the big start, keeps us on the roll,” Naiyaravoro said.

“I think winning games now, you don't want to fall off that roll, especially not only for the quarters but whatever team you come up against, we'll be ready and that win will be (important).”

This series will likely be Naiyaravoro’s last with the Waratahs, as he prepares to join UK side Northampton, and he’s keen to finish a remarkable season on a high.

The gigantic speedster has already broken Israel Folau’s record for tries in one season, scoring 14 so far, though he said that was just a bonus.

“To be honest, I wasn't really thinking about the record or anything, I think I was just more focused on finishing the tries in the season for the boys and got a surprise about two weeks ago, noticed that I was close to the record, but to be honest, I wasn't really paying attention to it,” he said.



The Waratahs take on the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.