Speculation the Bulls will field a weakened team against the Stormers has been greeted philosophically by two Australian coaches hoping for home advantage in the Super 14 rugby semifinals, should their teams succeed against New Zealand opposition on Friday night.

Waratahs coach Chris Hickey and Brumbies counterpart Andy Friend both refused to be critical if the Bulls rested a number of key players for their final regular season derby against the second-placed Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday (NZT).

The defending champions are already assured of hosting a semifinal - and potential final - and by selecting a second string side they enhance the Stormers' chances of holding on to second and securing their own home semifinal at Newlands.

Should the Stormers record a bonus-point win against a depleted Bulls line-up, the Waratahs would be denied any chance of hosting a lucrative home semifinal, even if they beat the Hurricanes at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Brumbies' hopes of achieving home advantage would also be dashed, providing they had already eliminated the Crusaders in Christchurch, the first leg of Friday's trans-Tasman doubleheader.

The Bulls 22-man squad is expected to be named tomorrow but captain Victor Matfield has already indicated he, first five-eighth Morne Steyn, centre Wynand Olivier, fullback Zane Kirchner and halfback Fourie du Preez will rested.

Wing Gerhard van den Heever is also suspended for two matches, meaning six Bulls starters from last weekend's win over the Crusaders might not front although reports have suggested up to 13 first-choice players may be missing.

New South Wales Rugby Union chief executive director Jim L'Estrange said he would raise concerns with the competition's governing body Sanzar although there is no law preventing a team from resting players, or limiting the number of those who are spelled in any given week.

"If we think there is a cause to raise concern we will certainly be raising it with Sanzar," L'Estrange told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

"I certainly understand there will be a few players after a long and torrid season who have a few niggles. But one would think 13 is a little overdone.

"We hope it is the best team the Bulls can put forward. I would be incredibly surprised if the Bulls took the risk of resting so many players for what's an important game."

The Waratahs are well aware of the folly in sacrificing momentum and cohesion as the playoffs loom.

In 2002, then coach Bob Dwyer took a second string side to the final round match against the Crusaders in Christchurch and were thumped 96-16. A week later they were thrashed 51-10 by the Brumbies in the semifinal at Sydney.

"History will show that sometimes these things backfire on you anyhow," Hickey said, referring to the Waratahs' demise eight years ago.

"It's up to them what they do. All we're focused on is Friday night, if we take care of what we need to there we'll be in the finals series."

Friend also questioned Bulls coach Frans Ludeke's tactics.

"I can understand why you do it but for me the fear is you take that risk of losing all momentum," Friend said.

"Momentum is such a big thing in sport and if you've got it, it's risky to play around with it and possibly lose it."

- NZPA