Waratahs coach Michael Cheika will be hoping his Wallabies contingent come through the three-Test series against France unscathed.
Destiny is in the NSW Waratahs’ hands as they push to top the Super Rugby ladder, however the health of their star players on Wallabies duty is one factor they can’t control.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika will be watching the three Test matches against France with one eye closed as he sweats on his top players coming through unscathed.
Given the momentum NSW have gathered over recent weeks as they charge towards a maiden title, there’s arguably no team more inconvenienced by the competition’s three-week Test break than the men in sky blue.
Cheika’s side are not only heavily represented in the Australian team, but must now find a way to bottle the energy and self-belief displayed in their stirring 33-17 away win over the Chiefs on Saturday for June 28, when they face the Brumbies.
The Waratahs will leapfrog current leaders the Sharks and finish first if they beat the Brumbies, Highlanders and Queensland to finish the regular season.
That was after the Sharks suffered a shock last-minute 21-19 loss to the Stormers on Saturday.
Ending on top of the table is vital to the Waratahs’ chances, given finishing lower would mean the daunting prospect of travelling to hostile Durban to play a final against the Sharks.
For his non-Wallabies, Cheika will give them a week off before keeping match fitness up in Sydney club rugby.
“Some will play three games and some will play two, it depends on each workload,” Cheika told AAP.
“Some guys need to have a week off. Some guys will be playing the three club games in that window.
“Every team has to deal with it.
“We’re happy but there’s still plenty of work to go. First game back is going to be a massive game against the Brumbies.”
Cheika said the most pleasing thing about the Waratahs’ gutsy win over the Chiefs was the ability of his Wallabies contingent to focus on the job at hand rather than what will confront them this week as they prepare to play France.
He hopes that focus bodes well for the Waratahs picking up from where they left off in three weeks’ time.
“Definitely – that’s been a real positive for us over last couple of weeks,” he said.
“As a team we have not spoken about it (Wallabies). It’s like it never happened. We have just been focused on the next job which is what we need to do.”
The Waratahs and Brumbies fixture at ANZ Stadium is crucial for the men from the ACT, who are three points behind their rivals in the Australian Conference and have a bye still to come.
On Saturday night they stayed in contention with a comprehensive 37-10 win over the Rebels in Canberra.
Meanwhile, the Force virtually dropped out of contention with a 30-7 loss to the New Zealand Conference-leading Crusaders.
Queensland scored a consolation 38-31 win over the Highlanders in Brisbane.