The Waratahs’ season-long rails run is about to pay off. Image: ABC Grandstand
The Roar: The final round of Super Rugby wasn’t brilliant from a tipping front, but it did throw up the Qualifying Finals that I think were largely expected. The Chiefs were always in danger of dropping their last game to the Hurricanes, and the Waratahs were always expected to put four tries past the Reds.
And that meant that while Highlanders’ big win over the hapless Blues locked them in for fourth spot, the respective final round losses for the Brumbies and Stormers became irrelevant for the competition standings.
The big winner in all this, I think, is the Waratahs. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that ‘everything has come up Milhouse‘ for them…
The reason my Dan Carter interview was cut short: the impatient team huddle!
It’s not quite as bad as 2012, when they just needed a point to make the finals, but the Brumbies’ last-round loss to the Crusaders on Saturday does make their playoff road about as rocky and lengthy as it could possibly get.
Here’s the ABC Grandstand highlights from the match, along with all my post-match interviews, including chats with departing Crusaders greats, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw..
Nic White hopes tomorrow’s match against the Crusaders isn’t his last in Canberra. Image via Brumbies Facebook
ESPNscrum.com: I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bit of time with Nic White this season. While he was ruled out of playing for the best part of a month mid-season, White very enthusiastically took to radio commentary as part of the ABC Grandstand team in Canberra. He even spent one game down on the sideline with me, which was notable for the increased firmness and regularity he was punching me as the tense final stages played out.
And I learnt that his approach to commentary is not too dissimilar to his approach to playing. It’s all fun and games and jokes behind the scenes, but as soon as we were broadcasting live, White was on his game, offering insights and analysis that can only come with experience.
Likewise, when the press conference cameras were rolling this week, White assured everyone that he wasn’t focused on the Brumbies’ important pre-finals showdown with the Crusaders quite possibly being his last game in Canberra in a Brumbies jersey.
But sitting down afterwards, White admitted that the prospect of never wearing the Brumbies jersey onto Canberra Stadium again is with him this week…
The Waratahs are on track for back to back titles, but it hasn’t been anywhere near as smooth as they’d have liked. Image via Waratahs Facebook
ABC Grandstand Digital: The final six teams have all been decided, but the order for teams two to six is still up in the air, and Andrew Mayes and I discussed on Grandstand Breakfast this morning.
For the Waratahs and Brumbies, particularly, both teams can finish anywhere between second and sixth, and in the first week of the playoffs could still yet be playing in any one of five different locations, or have the week off completely. So yeah, there’s a fair bit on the line this weekend..