Walking wounded … Berrick Barnes played despite illness. Photo: Jon Reid
THE Waratahs might have lost to the Crusaders on Sunday, but coach Michael Foley yesterday praised halfback Brendan McKibbin and five-eighth Berrick Barnes for playing even though extremely ill.
If the Waratahs had vast back-up, both Barnes and McKibbin would have been rested, as they were suffering from a virus and head cold, prompting the official announcement of the starting line-up to be delayed until shortly before kick-off.
However, with countless players unavailable through injury and suspension, the pair agreed to play. McKibbin was close to the Waratahs' best, while Barnes, who played at fullback in defence, was successful in taking numerous Crusaders high balls. Both remained on the field until well into the second half.
Stand out ... Waratahs halfback Brendan McKibbin. Photo: Getty Images
''Berrick at the start of the week was a mess, while Brendan had the flu for a number of days, and was particularly brave to play on the weekend,'' Foley said. ''They were also ill on match day. But as I always say to players in this situation: 'Tim Horan got man of the match in a World Cup semi-final on a piece of toast.'''
Foley was referring to Horan's extraordinary performance in the 1999 World Cup semi-final win over the Springboks at Twickenham, after he had been violently ill for several days.
The Waratahs are unlikely to make major changes for Saturday's match against the Brumbies in Canberra, as none of their injured squad members will return this week. Against the Crusaders, they fielded Jono Jenkins and Peter Betham - both of whom were not in their original 30-man squad.
Meanwhile, Waratahs Rugby reported a $49,990 profit for last year. This follows a $201,939 loss the previous year. Membership revenue grew by $496,827, sponsorship revenue increased by $409,206 and corporate hospitality income grew by $225,729.