THEY were Wallabies team-mates only last month but one-time flat-mates – and local products – Sam Carter and Paddy Ryan will be out to dash each others Super 15 title dreams tonight.
In what has been dubbed the biggest Aussie derby in 12 years, Ryan’s NSW Waratahs and Carter’s ACT Brumbies’ sides will fight it out for a finals berth.
38,000 tickets have been sold for the blockbuster at Allianz Stadium. A victory will see the Waratahs host the decider.
Quirindi boy Carter will start in the second row while Tamworth-raised Ryan will come off the bench.
The two lived together for about six months one off-season and were club team-mates before Carter made the move south.
A move Carter hasn’t looked back from.
He made his Wallabies debut in the recent test series against France, turning in a man of the match performance, and was this week named in the Wallabies squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship after missing the remainder of the France series with an ankle injury.
“I got back in the squad, which is good news,” he said.
“Hopefully I can get back in there and get in the team.”
That has taken a bit of a back seat though as the Brumbies plot to topple the Waratahs and reach the final for the second consecutive year. “It is very exciting.
“Obviously all the guys are really focused,” Carter said.
“It’s a big occasion, especially being the Waratahs.”
Since the Brumbies were formed largely of then NSW discards, the two have built up a strong rivalry.
“Obviously every time we play the Waratahs we get pretty excited,” Carter said.
“The fact it is a final makes it even bigger.”
The Waratahs took the honours last time the two sides met, and quite emphatically.
But the Brumbries were missing a handful of stars including general Matt Toomua and Carter.
“Obviously we were a bit off our game,” Carter said.
“(And) The Waratahs came out firing.”
He said when they get rolling they are very hard to stop.
“We need to get on the front foot early,” he said.
It’s what they did last week against the Chiefs.
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen commented after it was their best performance in the last three years, and Carter said they will draw a lot from that.
Momentum for one.
They also take a lot of lessons and confidence from making the final last year and the route they took to get there – knocking over the Bulls in Pretoria.
The Waratahs have threats right across the field, and similarly to the Chiefs can score from anywhere.
“You can’t really give the Waratahs an inch or they’ll capitalise on it,” Carter said.
“They’ve got the backs and forwards to really make you pay.”
“(But) We do know how to beat them.”
“We just have to play our best footy.
“We know if we do that we can beat anyone.”