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Australian Super Rugby semi-final a good omen for Wallabies as Brumbies and Waratahs go to battle

Brumbies prop Ben Alexander is back in the Wallabies' frame.

Brumbies prop Ben Alexander is back in the Wallabies' frame. Photo: Getty Images

One game, 22 Wallabies and a grand final berth up for grabs - Test coach Ewen McKenzie is salivating at an all-Australian Super Rugby semi-final which has the potential to launch World Cup dreams and be a good omen for Australian rugby.

The ACT Brumbies will play the NSW Waratahs in a blockbuster derby in Sydney on Saturday night with the winner advancing to the championship game next week.

It's the first time two Australian teams have squared off in a final since 2002, the same year the Wallabies last won the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand.

And regardless of the Brumbies-Waratahs result, McKenzie is already planning to transfer Super Rugby success into the Test arena as the Wallabies begin their road to the World Cup in England next year.

McKenzie named a 32-man Wallabies squad on Wednesday, boasting 11 players each from the Brumbies and Waratahs.

Flying Fijian Henry Speight has been included in the squad, despite not being eligible for selection until September 11, while Ben Alexander (neck) and Joseph Tomane (cheekbone) make their Wallabies comebacks after injuries ruled them out of the three-Test series against France last month.

"There's enough in the derby games for us to get a good idea of mate versus mate," McKenzie said.

"Obviously we want guys still upright at the end of it, but we're looking forward to the contest. The reality is you want your teams performing well against the Kiwi and South African teams ... everyone is doing their bit.

"We'll try to take the positivity of what the Tahs and the Brumbies have done and take that forward with the Wallabies."

The Brumbies will name an unchanged line-up for the knockout match against the Waratahs.

Wallabies squad members Tomane and Pat McCabe are still on the bench with the Brumbies' back line firing in the past two weeks, while Clyde Rathbone is pushing to recover from a hamstring injury.

McKenzie "deliberately" delayed naming his squad until Wednesday when both the Brumbies and the Waratahs had a day away from training to avoid distractions.

The derby match will be the biggest Australian Super Rugby contest since the teams last met in a final 12 years ago.

Coincidentally it was the Waratahs against the Brumbies then as well - which the ACT won 51-10 - and a month later the Wallabies beat the All Blacks to claim the Bledisloe Cup.

This year all four starting props are in the Wallabies squad, Henry Speight is squaring off against Rob Horne, while playmaking combination Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano will look to get one over Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale.

The Waratahs finished the regular season at the top of the ladder with the best attacking and defensive record in the competition.

Since losing to the Waratahs 39-8 four weeks ago, the Brumbies have scored 10 tries in their past two games.

"I don't know if they've [the Brumbies] tweaked their game or not, but they've expressed themselves a little bit differently," McKenzie said.

"They are carrying the ball in different parts of the field, which is a bit different. Maybe it's a change of philosophy, I don't know.

"But it's worked for them on the scoreboard, there's a variety about how they go about it and that's not a bad thing to have. A couple of weeks ago I would have said they're contrasting styles, but they've got a lot of similarities."

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said potential Wallabies spots would not be a factor in the derby match.

"There's so much focus on the game that it is just about that, the selections were inevitable and we expected them to be in the team," Larkham said.

"Henry's form warrants selection and the Australian public will fall in love with him. But there will be no thought of the Wallabies for now."

FAREWELL THE BRUMBIES

Thursday: The Brumbies are inviting fans to farewell the team from their University of Canberra base at 12.30pm before they leave for Sydney for their semi-final clash against the NSW Waratahs.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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