Waratahs make finals run

SCOTT WISEMANTEL has the NSW Waratahs backline poised to stake a claim for the Super 14 rugby championship – regardless of what other clubs are doing.

The Waratahs are third on the ladder with one match to play, and with the two sides above them to face off in the final round, they are every chance of hosting a semi-final if they can beat the Wellington Hurricanes tonight.

That, and for runaway leaders, South Africa’s Bulls, to defeat the second-placed Stormers tomorrow night.

It looked a fairly predictable outcome given the way the season has panned out, until the Bulls – secure on top – looked to rest 14 of the players who started last week.

Much has been made of the decision which could cost the Waratahs a home semi-final – some have cried that it is not in the spirit of the game.

But Wisemantel, the straight-shooting backs coach from Lennox Head, isn’t buying into it.

“In all truth, what the Bulls do with their side is none of our business,” Wisemantel said.

In fact, the former Trojan believes the Bulls have every right to pull the strings the way they are.

“They have been the best team all season to the point where their spot on top of the ladder is untouchable with a round to go,” he said. “The Bulls have earned the right to rest their players; that is the advantage of finishing first.”

Besides, the Waratahs need to beat the Hurricanes before they can even worry about the finals, something that the coaching staff hasn’t needed to harp on through the week.

“The boys haven’t been distracted by that stuff,” he said.

“We just need to focus on winning this weekend.

“After that we don’t really care who we play or where we play them.”

The Waratahs’ backline has been something of a revolving door at times this season but their master insists there is method to the merry-go-round.

“It may look as though we have been chopping and changing, but really it has been horses for courses,” Wisemantel said. “We have kept the same stable through the season – just made minor changes.”

Wisemantel’s contract with NSW expires at season’s end and he says he can’t wait to get home for a bit of down time at lazy Lennox.

But you would imagine he’d be happy to stick on for another three weeks, because that might mean the Waratahs had won their first Super rugby championship.

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