Waratahs

Brumbies Smith backs Waratahs to take Super 14 title

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Brumbies captain George Smith is predicting that the Waratahs will make a breakthrough and claim their first Super 14 title on the back of his childhood friend Wycliff Palu.


Should the Waratahs win the Super 14 final they will become the third Australian franchise to win a Super rugby title after Queensland won a title in 1995 when it was the Super 10 and then in 2001 and 2004 the Brumbies won it when it was the Super12.


Smith was involved when the Brumbies won their titles in ’01 and ’04 titles and he believes destructive Waratahs No.8 Palu holds the key to victory.


“I think NSW will win this one,” Smith told Sportal.


“They’ve definitely got the players to play well and beat the Crusaders over there in Christchurch.”


“Their lineout’s going particularly well and the way Wycliff Palu has been playing this year is sensational.”


“He’s playing above his weight and matured as a player.”


Smith and Palu grew up together on Sydney’s northern beaches and have a very strong bond.


“He definitely has the potential to be an outstanding playing in the future. He’s an outstanding player at the moment,” Smith said of Palu.


“He can lock down that No.8 position (for Australia) if he chooses.”


“He could be the difference against the Brumbies.”


But the now former Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher disagrees with Smith’s prediction of the way things will go in the Super 14 final and he thinks that home advantage gives the Crusaders a crucial edge.


“I think in a two-horse race you’ve got to be a good chance, but being away from home they’ve (NSW) got to go in as underdogs,” Fisher said.


Asked if he expects the Waratahs to follow through on talk they will take a more attacking game plan into Saturday’s final, Fisher said: “I’d suggest that’s an absolute smokescreen, mate.”


“I think the Sharks got punished on the weekend for going away from probably what served them well all year, which is a good kicking game and good chase.”


“I think for the Waratahs to move away from what’s served them well all year would be absolute suicide and I can’t see (coach) Ewen (McKenzie) doing that.”


Fisher believes the fact that Saturday’s decider will be the last in charge for both coaches will have little impact on the outcome.


“I think players are out there playing the game and in a final I can’t see any additional motivation that is going to get anything different out of your performance,” Fisher said.


“It’s about (achieving) best execution on the night and that’s what will determine the game.”

 

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