NSW No. 8 Michael Wells believes the Waratahs will name a full-strength side to face the Brumbies, despite needing to rest five Wallabies over the final two rounds of Super Rugby.
The Waratahs are playing for their season when they host the Australian conference leaders in the penultimate round at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.
As per Rugby Australia’s resting policy, the Waratahs still have to sit Wallabies Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale out against either the Brumbies or the Highlanders in Invercargill next weekend.
NSW coach Daryl Gibson is expected to start all five while their season remains alive. They are nine points behind the Brumbies, but can still sneak into the finals if they win and other results fall their way.
Wells backed the best team to play the Brumbies, saying the derby doubled as a World Cup selection battle ahead of the tournament in September.
“We know we have to win to even have a shot at finals so there’s no excuse for not winning,” Wells said.
“Those decisions are made above our pay grade but I’d expect a full-strength team.
“Daryl said last week that conference games were really important as (they’re worth) double points, and also that selection battle for guys in the Wallabies frame.
“Daryl wanted to give those guys opportunities that are in that position (playing for a Wallabies spot).”
One such Australian fringe player is Brumbies halfback Joe Powell who was dropped for the Wallabies spring tour.
Powell hasn’t given up on his World Cup dream and said he was looking forward to battling halfback rivals Nick Phipps and Jake Gordon.
“It’s definitely in the back of the mind (the World Cup) and I have a good opportunity this weekend against two halfbacks, so it should be interesting,” Powell said.
“I don’t think they’ll be resting anyone against us.
“It’s a physical game every time we play them, there’s plenty of one on one match-ups there and the boys are out to prove a point.”
Watch – Michael Wells speaks to media:
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