x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Bulls' move no concern to Waratahs

The New South Wales Waratahs have refused to weigh into the debate over the Pretoria Bulls' decision to rest 14 players this weekend.

The New South Wales Waratahs have refused to weigh into the debate over the Pretoria Bulls' decision to rest 14 players this weekend, insisting that beating the Hurricanes in Sydney today is their only concern. Frans Ludeke, the Bulls coach, confirmed that several players would sit out the pivotal Week 14 clash against the Stormers in Cape Town when he named a second-string line-up. The defending champions are assured of the top spot regardless of this week's result, but the second-placed Stormers can book a home semi-final with a victory over the weakened Bulls tomorrow.

Ludeke's controversial move is a slap in the face for the Waratahs, Brumbies, Hurricanes and Crusaders, who all have mathematical chances of hosting a home semi-final should the Stormers lose this weekend. But while the selection has caused a major stir in both Australia and New Zealand, Phil Waugh, the hard-nosed Waratahs captain and Chris Hickey, his coach, both declared the subject a non-issue on the eve of their clash against the Hurricanes.

"I'm not interested, to be honest," Waugh said. "It's about us and there's nothing after tonight if we don't perform ourselves, so there's no point in getting too worried about that. "I think it's irrelevant to us as players. We'll go out there and hopefully perform well. I'm not worried about what the Bulls are doing I'm just worried about what we're doing." Asked if he would consider a similar move in Ludeke's position, Hickey added: "I think if you're in that position and you've got that comfort zone you'd certainly look at resting some players who might be carrying injuries."

In today's other matches the Natal Sharks take on the Western Force and the Auckland Blues play host to Waikato. * Compiled by Graham Caygill, with agencies