THE Waratahs’ clash with the Brumbies this weekend will be like a re-enactment of the Hatfields-versus-McCoys showdown such is the bad blood between the Super 14 neighbours, says NSW winger Lachie Turner.The Brumbies’ relationship with the Waratahs has always been testy. One of the reasons for the distrust is that they relied on many NSW outcasts to bolster their ranks when the province was formed in 1996.Such was the mutual distrust that the following year Waratahs team officials were accused of faking a letter purporting to be written by the Brumbies hierarchy that ridiculed every member of the NSW line-up. This ploy, aimed at firing up the Waratahs, back-fired, as the Brumbies won by 47 points. It has calmed down a little since then, but there still remains some ill-feeling.”There’s no team I enjoy beating more, and if you did a quick poll most of the blokes in the [Waratahs] side would feel exactly the same,” Turner said ahead of Saturday’s match at ANZ Stadium.”It is just that rivalry, how close we are and that there’s always been a feeling of bad blood between the two sides. If you grow up in Sydney or Canberra and want to be a professional player, the two teams you look at are the Waratahs or Brumbies. That sort of breeds that bad blood.”That didn’t stop Turner for a time thinking about becoming a Brumby.”I was pretty close to signing there a couple of years ago,” he said. ”I had a lot of friends down there, but made the decision to stay at the Waratahs because I grew up in NSW, and always wanted to be a Waratah. Now I want to show on Saturday night that staying in Sydney was the right decision.”The Waratahs also yesterday tried to convince everyone that they actually don’t mind losing the home-ground advantage by leaving the Sydney Football Stadium for Homebush Bay. It all sounded somewhat hollow, especially as many Waratahs admit privately that they far prefer playing at the SFS. The situation is not helped by their only previous game at Homebush Bay resulting in a 17-13 loss to the Crusaders last season.They won’t even train at ANZ Stadium before the game, with all of the four Waratahs training sessions this week scheduled for Moore Park. Waratahs coach Chris Hickey, mindful that NSW’s move to Homebush Bay is for strictly financial reasons, said that the team had not pushed for training sessions at the venue.”I don’t see it as a big deal for us, to be honest,” he said at the SFS yesterday. ”It mainly affects the kickers, so they’ll go out there on Wednesday. Otherwise we will prepare as we would normally during the week. We’re quite happy to continue with our preparations here, as most of the players have played there [at ANZ Stadium].”In the Waratahs’ favour is that two of the Brumbies’ key players – George Smith and Stirling Mortlock – seem to be no chance of playing because of injury. Instead the only two sidelined Brumbies scheduled to return following their loss to the Hurricanes in Canberra last Friday night are halfback Josh Valentine and back-rower Mitchell Chapman.The Reds, meanwhile, have signed former Wallabies utility forward Radike Samo as an injury replacement for their skipper James Horwill. Samo, 33, who played Test football in 2004, has been playing in Japan after a stint in France. Reds second-rower Van Humphries will miss Friday night’s match against the Stormers with a damaged ankle.
Nanjing Night Net