I know they haven't taken their chances at this stage in previous competitions, but I'd have to say the Waratahs are the team with the form and momentum and will be tough to beat.

My only concern for them is that they won't benefit from the week off they have earned by winning the round robin. It would usually be ideal to reach the end of the knock-out rounds and have that rest period, but of course, every side had three weeks off in June. That international window is a serious blight on the competition and I'm not sure that it is an advantage to be given the next round off.

But that said, the Waratahs have come across some form and they are going to have home advantage.

When you get to this stage of the campaign - those two factors are all you can ask for.


In terms of who I see challenging the Waratahs ... well, the Crusaders, to my mind, struggled past the Blues after losing the previous week to the Hurricanes. They haven't been able to often produce back-to-back decisive performances which is what they are going to have to do. They didn't do it in 2012 or 2013 and I know they are determined to make amends.

You'd have no problem backing Crusaders teams of old. This current team ... they still haven't proven they can win pressure games.

I don't think the Sharks have played well since they came back from the June window. They had quite a few players involved with the Springboks and I don't know whether that took too much out of them or whether they are struggling to come back together again - but they don't look like the same team they were when they came to New Zealand.

The Highlanders really need Ben Smith on the field - not just for what he brings from the backfield, but because he is an inspiration with his presence alone.

The Brumbies will have the confidence to take on the Chiefs but if they get through, I'm not sure they will go much further.

As for the Chiefs, I just can't see them winning again. I haven't been impressed and I'm a bit surprised they have made it into the top six. Their front-row didn't play well against the Blues and that put pressure on their locks and loose trio. I'm not sure about why they keep making so many personnel changes and I don't think they have the presence or players in their midfield or back three to punish teams.