Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps says Kurtley Beale (C) can provide the spark needed to create history.Kurtley Beale can provide the spark needed to create some Super Rugby history in Johannesburg for the NSW Waratahs, halfback Nick Phipps says.
The Waratahs have never won a Super Rugby playoff game in South Africa and will be up against it at the Lions’ Ellis Park Stadium fortress in Saturday night’s semi-final.
The Lions have won their past three encounters, including a 29-0 dust up in Sydney earlier this year.
But Phipps is confident the Waratahs can make club history, having already diced with death in a comeback quarter-final defeat of the Highlanders in Sydney last weekend.
The Waratahs scored 24 straight points to book a semi-final berth, with Beale orchestrating their second half comeback.
“KB’s that man for us, he’s our spark,” Phipps told reporters from the team’s Johannesburg base on Tuesday.
“His ability to turn nothing into something and his control … he wants to be in that leadership role and if he’s playing great footy we’re playing great footy.
“So we’ll put the big boy on ice and make sure he’s ready to go.”
Much has been made of the logistical challenge that faces the Waratahs, who barely had time to celebrate at Allianz Stadium before boarding a flight to South Africa.
But Phipps, another to have stepped up in the absence of talismanic captain Michael Hooper (hamstring), isn’t buying into it.
“It’s no big issue; everyone’s in great spirits and quite antsy (after not training on Tuesday),” he said.
“We like to play quick, unrelenting footy (and that won’t change).”
While Beale’s influence on the game is often obvious, Phipps said the more subtle contributions would be also appreciated.
“Those little moments, there’s so many in a game but they’re unseen,” he said.
“Slowing the play down in the bottom of a ruck or putting a head in a dark spot on the try line … the guys all get recognition for those internally.”