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The NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds will square off in a Super Rugby derby this Saturday night, with retro the theme of the night. The match will be played at the SCG, and the Tahs will be sporting some pretty sweet throwback jerseys.
The clash will be a significant one for prop Paddy Ryan. A Tahs regular since making his debut back in 2011, Ryan will make his 100th appearance for the side on Saturday night, and the front-rower was kind enough to chat to The Roar ahead of the landmark match.
The Roar: What’s the rivalry between the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds like as a player?
Paddy Ryan: Like all Australian derbies, it’s an opportunity to play against guys you grew up playing against, and win. And there’s nothing like having bragging rights over your mates. They have had a good start to the season playing a physical, yet expansive brand of rugby, which makes this game even more exciting
Rob Simmons is someone who’s been on the other side in this rivalry in recent years. What’s it like having a former Red alongside you going into this clash?
Rob is a great guy to have in our side. He runs a great lineout and has been in good form the last few weeks. The fact that he is a former Red doesn’t influence me much. It may mean that he has more conversations with the coaches this week but the team just wants him to bring what he brings each week.
How would you describe the NSW Waratahs’ season so far?
We are still at a crossroads for our season, the start has been okay without being exemplary. We have some really important games coming up leading into the June Test window, which is also a break in Super Rugby. The thing about Super Rugby is you need to build momentum and a win this weekend will continue that momentum into a big encounter against the Lions next weekend.
You guys copped some criticism early on in the season, but have gone on to post three pretty impressive wins. What’s been the main factor in that strong form over the last few weeks?
A part of being a sporting club in Sydney means that you come under more criticism than any other club in other cities. There is a lot of sport on offer here and people want to see their teams doing well. I feel that we blocked our criticism out early and have gone on to play in a true NSW Waratahs style that Daryl Gibson has worked hard on developing over the last few seasons. We need to stick to this style under the pressures that will come at some stage.
You’re just one point from the top of the Australian Conference. There’s plenty of the season still to go, but is there much thought about your finals chances at the moment?
If we start worrying about the finals now we will lose focus of what we need to do to get there. It’s a cliche in sport to say we are taking it one week at a time but that’s the reality. Getting ahead of yourself usually results in a stumble or poor performance.
Personally, it’s your 100th cap for NSW. Did you ever think you’d make this many appearances for your state?
It’s not something you take a lot of time thinking about as it approaches but once my career is done it will be something nice to reflect upon. The men that have played 100 games for this state are all great rugby people and to be a part of that group is an honour
You’ve come off the bench a lot this season. Are you comfortable in that replacement role, or are you eyeing off getting into the starting line-up?
Every player wants to start every game but it’s always been a team-first culture here. Sekope Kepu has been performing well the last few weeks. If my role changes to a starting role I will take that opportunity with both hands.
The NSW Waratahs will go up against local rivals the Queensland Reds this weekend in what promises to be a blockbuster of a Super Rugby encounter, so be sure to grab a NSW Waratahs membership and get down to the SCG to enjoy all the Saturday night action.