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Waratahs keep Crusaders hanging as photo-op flops

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Credit to Michael Cheika and the Waratahs

A magnificent occasion for Australian rugby when the Waratahs take on the Crusaders in Sydney's first Super Rugby grand final.

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If the Crusaders had been clutching at straws for extra motivation before Saturday's Super Rugby final, the Waratahs handed them a big stick on Friday. 

As ticket sales surged past the magic 55,000 mark, breaking a five-year-old competition crowd record, NSW captain Michael Hooper was an hour late for a joint-captains photo opportunity at ANZ Stadium, leaving his counterpart Kieran Read to pose trophy-less for the assembled media and leave after 20 minutes. 

Hooper had led his team in a captain's run at Allianz Stadium on the other side of town at 10.30am. After a longer than usual session, the NSW No.7 showered and jumped in a car to head out to Olympic Park. 

Where's Michael? ... Kieran Read at ANZ Stadium on Friday.

Where's Michael? ... Kieran Read at ANZ Stadium on Friday. Photo: Brendan Esposito

But by the time he arrived – more than hour after the scheduled start time of 12.15pm according to witnesses – Read had been ushered away to the team's traditional pre-game lunch elsewhere. 

"It couldn’t be helped," a Waratahs spokesman said. "It was just unfortunate we were late and unfortunate the Crusaders couldn’t wait. It was just one of those things. We eventually got the shot [photograph]." 

Both sides played down the significance of the bungled photo opportunity, which is required under the regulations of tournament organiser SANZAR.

On his lonesome ... Michael Hooper with the Super Rugby trophy.

On his lonesome ... Michael Hooper with the Super Rugby trophy. Photo: Brendan Esposito

But there are few things as important as respect in rugby, both real and perceived. If Read was looking for the key ingredient to his pre-match wind-up, his younger counterpart may have inadvertently handed it to him. 

Meanwhile, Waratahs inside centre Kurtley Beale did not complete Friday's captain's run, leaving the pitch to treat a sore shoulder. He returned towards the end of the session but returned to the sideline after a short run. 

The Waratahs were confident there were no big issues with the problem joint, on which he had surgery at the end of last year, and coach Michael Cheika made no changes to the balance of his bench, sticking with a forward-heavy 6-2 split.

Returning winger Peter Betham has taken Taqele Naiyaravoro's bench spot alongside replacement halfback Brendan McKibbin. 

Cheika indicated his side had plenty of their own motivation, drawing on a perception the Waratahs forwards were the minor premiers' "soft underbelly". 

"I think they think we're a little bit soft," he said. 

"All we can do is go out there and try to prove that wrong at the end of the day ... [but] even if we do it doesn't necessarily mean winning, either.

"That's part of a battle that's going to go on over the 80 minutes, tactically, physically, mentally."

Hooper said the Waratahs knew their dream run up the ladder this year did not mean points would be handed to them on Saturday. 

"Obviously against a good Crusaders outfit, things aren't going to happen easily," he said.

"They're not going to give you ways to score tries, ways to put points on the board. You've got to be able to make opportunities, make them have errors, put your good players in good positions against maybe worse defenders ... That's something that we'll have to take into the game."

6 comments so far

  • Hooper will learn. As with time and a lot more experience in the captaincy role, he will see that these kind of things don't go down well with the next up opposition. Hooper, through what he has shown so far, has the ability to go all the way, and possibly make the Wallaby captaincy his own

    Date and time
    August 02, 2014, 10:28AM
    • @ Muzzo

      I'm more concerned that this 'photo date' (how sweet) saw both participants dressed so poorly, lookin' so poorly and timed it ever so poorly.
      I mean, really.... look at Read will you, he's wearing cream daks, hasn't shaved (my mum says don't trust a man with a beard) and looks like he's just been busted by HIS mum for drinking the last of the milk in the fridge.... 'did not !'
      On the other hand, there's Hooper.... if ever there was a definitive look for those poor, old, 'trailor-trash' types then.... he's absolutely nailed it.
      It's not PC, I know, but who gives a rats, eh ?

      Underdogs, trailor-trash, looks and come latelies.... lovin' it.

      C'arn da Tahs.... we don't wear thongs on dates !

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 12:42PM
  • Talk about storm in a coffee mug. While it's never good to be late for a photo shoot, both Captains are underandably incredibly busy this close to the final. I doubt very much if Kieran Read even considers it as extra motivation. Nice try by the reporter though.

    Blinky Bill
    Bellingen NSW
    Date and time
    August 02, 2014, 12:40PM
    • Can he wear shoes and a reasonable pair of pants in future? Not a great look all around and a bit arrogant if you ask me.

      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 2:04PM
      • Georgina I think you are over psychoanalyzing this. The Crusaders don't need any motivation to win. It could have been a simple mistake on Hopper's part , the traffic in Sydney can be horrific as anyone living here can tell you. If I was a cynic however I could say it was a cynical effort from The Tahs to leave the opposition waiting and waiting in some obscure venture to get the upper hand, I am superior so you can wait type.On the hand it could have been a simple case of running late, very late.What I don't understand though is if Hooper left training at 10.15 and had a shower, even if a long long shower , why did it take him till 1.15 to arrive, that equates to 3 hours, it was not being held in Newcastle or Nowra.

        Date and time
        August 02, 2014, 3:28PM
        • Hey Chook.... Way back in my day, we were lucky to wear shoes, as all the money went out on your "toggs",including the boots if you were lucky. Looking forward to kick off. As you know I will be backing the team from Te Wai Pounamu. The Mainland of New Zealand. Go the Red & Blacks. P.S. I think the boat has arrived, that is carrying all the "razor blades", so Kieran should be right. lol. Cheers buddy.

          Date and time
          August 02, 2014, 6:13PM

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