Jesse Mogg has an opportunity to reclaim his place in the starting XV. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au/Anish Debiky/AFP
Waratahs v Brumbies
Saturday June 28 – 7:0 PM (AEST)
Unless some bad luck comes their way, both of these teams are going to feature in the finals. The Brumbies were the runners-up last year, while the Waratahs have dramatically improved on the last two seasons in what can only be described as ones to forget. With both teams having players donning the green and gold last month, this will be the must-watch game on the round.
The Tahs are back to their very best. Forget about 2012 and 2013. They were just a little detour. All they needed was a push in the right direction, and haven’t they got just that. Coach Michael Cheika has become the saviour the Waratahs needed. Since taking the reins in 2013, he has turned a team that were cellar dwellers over the past couple of seasons in genuine premiership contenders. Not only that, he has turned code-hopper Israel Falou into a genuine superstar of the game. Benn Robinson will make Waratah history when he runs out onto ANZ Stadium. Robinson will earn his 130th cap for the Tahs on Saturday night, joining fellow NSW legend Al Baxter as the second most capped player for the NSW, behind former captain Phil Waugh (136). Cheika has made just one change that toppled the reigning champions the Chiefs last month, with Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu starting at tighthead, with Paddy Ryan dropping to the bench.
The Brumbies have dropped off a little bit this season. After a solid start (7 wins from 9 games) they have only managed to win two of their past five games. It is most likely only a little speed bump on the road to the finals but they need to start stringing some back-to-back wins together if they are any chance at once again contesting for the Championship trophy. Nic White comes back from the Test break full of confidence after helping the Wallabies crush France in a 3-0 series whitewash. For Jesse Mogg and Christian Lealiifano both have the chance to silence their doubters after both missing out on a green and gold jersey last month. Lealiifano replaces Matt Toomua at fly-half, while Jesse Mogg jumps in at fullback for Pat McCabe. Joe Tomane, David Pocock and Stephen Moore have all been ruled out through injury.
The Brumbies had the goods on the Tahs earlier this season, narrowly getting the victory in Canberra. But the season has changed for both teams, and it won’t be so easy this time around. Watch for big Will Skelton to add some impact off the bench, as well as new recruit Taqele Naiyaravoro.
LIVE on FoxSports 3