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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 Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Stats
IRE 17 vs AUS 7 Stats
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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