Aussie wrap (Mon) brings you the latest news from Australia’s Super 14 franchises.

McKenzie amped for Saders challenge

Outgoing coach Ewan McKenzie is relishing the opportunity to finish his Waratahs career on a high.

“You want to play the best team as often as you can, so every season I’ve been here I’ve wanted to play the Crusaders three times – [in the] Rotomahana Cup, round robin and then finals,” McKenzie said. “To get the third game against them is terrific because they’ve been the best team. History shows that.

“You’ve got to want to play the best teams. You don’t want to be going out there and playing the teams that are there or thereabouts. And it’s no different to the Wallabies playing the All Blacks. We play them twice as often as everybody and we get a result from a rugby point of view. You learn.”

McKenzie added that the Crusaders’ experience in finals gave them an edge.

“The Crusaders are the masters of doing what you have to do,” he said. “They were coming off a loss [against the Highlanders in Round 14]. It is a tough local derby. They were very methodical. Reality is that the score was 33-8 [not 33-22]. There were a couple of tries near the end … It was trademark Crusaders. They find ways to win. That is why they are such a good team.”

Burke backs Waugh

Former Australia fullback Matt Burke believes Phil Waugh should captain the Wallabies.

“First you have to be the first player picked. This year his performance throughout the team has probably been one of the best even though he didn’t win the award … Not discrediting George [Smith], but there weren’t perhaps any other players who stuck their hands up at the Brumbies. [Waugh] was always being noticed,” he said.

“The thing about the Waratahs, [Dan] Vickerman would score points and other players would score points. Perhaps it was taking away from [Waugh's] prowess. “Seeing him still play incredible rugby, get 100 games, and in his position – he is in a very combative position – people like it. That type of player, people like to emulate.”

Reds rely on youth

A debilitating player exodus will leave the Reds struggling to make any progress in the Super 14 next year.

The powers that be have tried to talk up their youngsters, but the loss of Clinton Schifcofske, Rodney Blake, Ed O’Donoghue and Chris Siale will affect their chances. Chris Latham (Worcester), Sam Cordingley (Grenoble), Stephen Moore (Brumbies) and David Croft (retired) have already announced their departure.

John Roe, Morgan Turinui and Van Humphries are also looking at other options.

The Reds recently finished in the bottom three for the fourth straight year and with a starting team averaging 21 years of age in 2009, they look set for more disappointment.

More to follow…