Just one round of Super 12 completed and Waratah-itis is resurgent in Sydney.

HazMat
teams and riot gear are being hastily diverted from the battlefields of
Macquarie Fields and rushed to the outskirts of the city. AQIS has set
up a quarantine zone from Coogee to Newport and out as far as Petersham
and St Ives in a bid to prevent the spread of this pernicious
contagion.

Waikato players and supporters returning home
are in isolation for four days. With a Lions Tour due in June, it would
be a disaster for New Zealand were the illness to get away.

The
local media reported on Saturday how the Waratahs pulled off a
‘stunning’ win against Waikato, how New South Wales were on ‘top of the
table’ – when two-thirds of the round hadn’t kicked off by Saturday
morning.

This delirium will take some eradicating. But in
the meantime, Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong residents can rely on
your Uncle Wally for a more dispassionate assessment of the NSW
Waratahs until the illness is contained.

The biggest
element of Waikato’s downfall was climate change. The dry, western
slopes heat of Wagga Wagga at dusk trialling against the Brumbies
recently was no preparation for the steamy, Brisbane-like conditions
they encountered at the Sydney Football Stadium. Even so, they looked
under-prepared and not up to Super 12 fitness. Holah, Gibbes and Bates
are three Chiefs to watch next week.

The Waratahs were
competent and cohesive enough for a first-round match, but not
stunning. Far more composed were they against Canterbury in the first
round last season and they’ll need to reach that level again soon. It’s
not far off. Tiquiri and Rogers had fine games, as did Harrison, Berne,
Waugh, Turinui and Hewitt, who should be retained as goal kicker for
next week.

CRIKEY: Read more (including news of an exciting new Crikey Award) on the site here: http://www.crikey.com.au/columnists/2005/03/01-0010.html

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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