Waugh to bring up century in Super Semi



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HSBC Waratahs captain Phil Waugh will make his 100th appearance for NSW in Saturday’s Super 14 semifinal against the Sharks at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The dynamic flanker debuted for the Waratahs in 1999, made his first Super Rugby appearance in 2000 and after missing most of 2007 through injury will bring up his century of appearances this weekend.

Waugh is just the fourth Waratah to play 100 matches for the state, alongside former teammates Matt Burke and Chris Whitaker, and reserve forward David Lyons who brought up his hundredth match earlier this season.

Putting his personal milestone to the side, Waugh says in Saturday’s souvenir match program that the onus is on him and the other experienced players in the Waratahs line-up to lead the side through what will be a tough semifinal contest.

‘The most important thing is for those experienced guys to play well and lead everyone else,’ says Waugh. ‘I think it makes it a lot easier for the less experienced guys to play when the older heads are showing the way and performing themselves.’

‘I think it’s also about having the confidence to play how we’ve been playing all year and take risks when they’re worth taking and knowing that the team is behind you, and above all else having that confidence to back yourself and know the team is standing behind you.’

Head Coach Ewen McKenzie has made limited changes to last week’s team which defeated the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, with Rob Horne and Adam Freier moving back into the starting line-up.

Matt Carraro shifts back to the bench, while Al Manning joins the squad as the backup hooker with Tatafu Polota-Nau ruled out with a hand injury earlier this week.

‘This end of season is about managing the squad we’ve been working with for the entire campaign,’ said McKenzie. ‘Apart from Al Manning we’re working with the same guys who have done the job for us throughout the season.

‘This week’s selection reflects the combinations which have the most experience playing together this year. Those combinations have performed in the big games; this is a big game so we’re confident the players and combinations which have done the job already can do it again on Saturday night.’

Since public ticket sales opened just 48 hours ago at Tuesday midday, more than 30,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s clash, with McKenzie encouraging fans to get to the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

‘We’ve been playing in this competition for 13 seasons now and this is only the third time we’ve earned a home semi which shows just how hard the Super 14 is,’ said McKenzie. ‘Ticket sales have been really strong which is great. I think the Rugby community is acknowledging how well this group of guys have performed in 2008 and hopefully we’ll have the ‘full house’ sign up on Saturday.’

Saturday, 24 May 2008 (Kick-off 8:00pm AEST)
Sydney Football Stadium
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (NZL)
Touch Judges: Lyndon Bray (NZL) & Kelvin Deaker (NZL)

HSBC Waratahs

1. Benn Robinson, 2. Adam Freier~, 3. Al Baxter^#, 4. Dean Mumm,5. Dan Vickerman, 6. Rocky Elsom, 7. Phil Waugh* [c]
8. Wycliff Palu, 9. Luke Burgess, 10. Kurtley Beale, 11. Lote Tuqiri, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Rob Horne, 14. Lachie Turner, 15. Sam Norton-Knight

Reserves 16. Al Manning, 17. Matt Dunning, 18. Will Caldwell ,19. David Lyons, 20. Brett Sheehan, 21. Matt Carraro, 22. Timana Tahu

* 100th NSW Cap
^ 94th NSW Cap (equal 6th with Nathan Grey)
# 85th NSW Super Cap (equal 5th with Nathan Grey)
~ 84th NSW Cap (9th all-time)



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