'Never a dead rubber': Ladder positions irrelevant as Waratahs-Reds rivalry adds spice to Super Rugby final round

Tue, May 28, 2024, 8:25 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Highlights from the Round 1 clash of Super Rugby Pacific 2024 between the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs

Whilst their positions on the ladder are locked, don't expect the NSW Waratahs-Queensland Reds match to mean any less as the two teams prepare to duke it out in Sydney.

The Reds can't move higher than sixth despite last week's thumping win whilst the Moana Pasifika defeat has resided the NSW Waratahs to the wooden spoon for the year.

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Therefore, you'd not blame the Reds for resting a few stars with next week's quarter-finals with the Chiefs on the horizon.

However, the fierce rivalry between the sides will ensure plenty to play for as they take to the Allianz Stadium field on Friday.

“It’s never a dead rubber regardless of what jersey you put on," Waratahs centre Izaia Perese said.

“We get paid to run out for NSW Rugby and the Waratahs so it’s expected to go out there and perform even though we’re not in finals contentions. We’ve got pride on the line and it’s for the guardians of the game, those that played before you and the lads who put on the jersey.

“I know it’s too late saying that now but even though it’s the last game, I’m still going to go out and wear my heart on my sleeve.”

Flyhalf Jack Bowen got a taste of what it means in the opening round, coming off the bench for his second Super Rugby cap after Lalakai Foketi's neck injury.

Bowen has featured once since for the 'Tahs and is hoping to get his chance to press his claims to be the Waratah flyhalf of the future with Will Harrison off to Japan.

"It's that State of Origin rivalry that everyone speaks about. As a kid growing up watching the NSW-Queensland games, you always want to be a part of it," he said.

"I got a little taste of that in round one and to do it again at home where I've never actually played will be an exciting day

"...It's definitely a massive opportunity for me. 'Harro' and Tane (Edmed) have been good to me so whatever happens in that aspect happens and looking to press my claims for next year."

Reds coach Les Kiss spoke of what it meant from a Queensland perspective earlier in the day, calling it 'the most important game in the calendar for us.'

"There’s a trophy up for grabs which we currently own and we want to do what’s necessary to win it," he said.

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