Super Rugby preview: Waratahs v Reds
By Sam Drury. Last Updated: 12/07/13 11:48am
The Waratahs host the Reds in the final round of regular season games on Saturday as the visitors look to move into fourth place in the overall standings.
The hosts are guaranteed a third place finish in the Australian conference and a play-off spot is now beyond them. However, they will be keen to end their season on a high and try to secure a seventh-place finish, knowing defeat could see them slip down to 11th.
The game will also mark Berrick Barnes' last outing in a Waratahs jersey before his move to Japan.
Both sides won last time out in Super Rugby, before the Australian sides took a break from competitive rugby due to the Lions tour.
The effects of the Wallabies Test series with the Lions have affected the line-ups of both teams with injuries ruling out the likes of James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Super Rugby weekend
Watch the final round of regular season matches on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 4 HD on Saturday.
Injuries to Israel Folau and Wycliff Palu mean the Waratahs bring in Tom Kingston and Jed Holloway with Cam Crawford moving to full-back to accommodate Kingston on the wing. Captain Dave Dennis will play just his second match of the season at no 8.
Meanwhile, the Reds are without centre Anthony Faingaa for the Templeton Cup clash with Jono Lance taking his place on the replacements bench. The absence of Horwill and Will Genia, also out injured, sees James Slipper handed the captain's armband on the occasion of his 50th appearance for the Reds.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie stressed the importance of the game ahead of the play-offs in the coming weeks and backed Slipper to take the role of captain in his stride.
"We're in a unique circumstance where we've only got one game before the finals so it's important we begin to get our combinations right and are choosing players who are completely fit and healthy for the next stages of our campaign," he said.
"You never wish to see players of the calibre of James Horwill and Will Genia miss games, but James Slipper did an outstanding job in the opening month of the season and will lead us well."
Waratahs: Cam Crawford; Tom Kingston, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Peter Betham; Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin; Dave Dennis (capt), Michael Hooper, Jed Holloway; Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani; Sekope Kepu, John Ulugia, Benn Robinson. Replacements: from Luke Holmes, Jeremy Tilse, Will Skelton, Pat McCutcheon, Mitchell Chapman, Matt Lucas, Tom Carter, Ben Volavola.
Reds: Ben Lucas; Rod Davies, Ben Tapuai, Mike Harris, Luke Morahan; Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk; Rob Simmons, Ed O'Donoghue, James Slipper (capt), Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Replacements: Albert Anae, Jono Owen, Radike Samo, Jarrad Butler, Beau Robinson, Anthony Faingaa, Dom Shipperley.