Cheika’s eyes fixed on the Reds

Stay in Sydney or pack your bags and head to Cape Town.

Those are just two of the scenarios facing the NSW Waratahs heading into a thrilling final round of the Super Rugby regular season.

The Waratahs host the Queensland Reds at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, with Michael Cheika’s side locked in a battle for the Australian conference with the Brumbies.

In short, a Waratahs’ bonus-point win over the Reds would see them clinch the Australian conference, book a week off, and a home semi-final.

No worries.

Lose, and the Waratahs’ chances of becoming the first Australian franchise to defend a Super Rugby title would diminish considerably, as things get a little more complicated.

Should the Brumbies land a win of any type, and the Waratahs lose, it could see the Sydneysiders slump to sixth and face the prospect of a trip to Cape Town to face the Stormers, who are third overall on 45 points ahead of their clash with the Natal-based Sharks.

Cheika hasn’t thought that far ahead and doesn’t see the need to.

“Why think about what’s going to happen next week?,” Cheika said.

“We lay a lot of plans at the start of the year around our preparation. Physical preparation and how that’s going to go, whether we have to get on a plane next week or not play, is absolutely irrelevant.

“The only thing that counts is making sure that playing the 300th match between NSW and Queensland is not missed on our players.”

Stephen Larkham’s Canberra-based side are locked on 47 points with the Waratahs, who lead the conference by virtue of winning more games this year.

A Brumbies’ bonus-point win over the Crusaders a few hours before the clash in Sydney, would heap pressure on the Waratahs to match them or risk being thrown in the Super Rugby playoffs’ mixer.

“We’ll take a look at it (Brumbies’ game), I suppose, but it’s not going to change anything we do on match day,” Cheika said.

“All the preparations will be completed today and we are not going to change according to what happens down there.”

Reds prop James Slipper would love nothing more than to beat the Waratahs and send Queensland veterans Will Genia and James Horwill out winners before they continue their careers overseas.

“We love playing the Tahs, it’s a great fixture with a lot of tradition and if we get a chance to knock them off on their home pitch then we’ll take that with both hands,” Slipper told AAP.

“It’s simple for us, we are trying to end a difficult season on a high note and send a couple of our players, who are leaving the club, out on a high note.”

Next week’s elimination finals kick off with the fourth-ranked side hosting the No.5 team, followed by team three hosting team six.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!