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NSW Waratahs eye Super Rugby title

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Update: 9:19AM WINNING an elusive Super Rugby crown with the NSW Waratahs, not the Bledisloe Cup with the Wallabies, is Nick Phipps' No.1 priority.

Phipps' halfback showdown with incumbent Wallabies' No.9 Nic White is just one of numerous vital head-to-head duels that could decide Saturday night's blockbuster derby with the Brumbies in Sydney.

But with Australian conference honours on the line, and the chance for the Waratahs to all but secure a precious home final, Phipps insists pushing his case for a Wallabies starting spot is the last thing on his mind.

Phipps says he and the Waratahs' fellow Wallabies have been targeting the pivotal clash with the Brumbies for weeks.

"Even being in camp (with the Wallabies) for the last three weeks, you knew especially among our boys that it was never too far away," he said.

"It probably hasn't even left our minds. The question was raised today: Is anything more important than our goal? And no one had any answers.

"We said this four or five months ago and we have been so working hard since then to try and achieve it."

Along with the halves match-up, Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie will be closely monitoring several other individual clashes ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener with the All Blacks on August 16.

Waratahs centres Adam Ashley-Cooper and Kurtley Beale are up against Tevita Kuridrani and Christian Lealiifano and, if he recovers from a groin strain, Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua will go-head-to-head with NSW's Test five-eighth Bernard Foley at ANZ Stadium.

Cheika has made just one change to the run-on side that beat defending champions the Chiefs in their last outing back in round 16, with Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu starting at tighthead in place of the hard-hitting Paddy Ryan.

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