30.05.2008 – Graham Croker

If NSW Waratahs defeat the Crusaders in the Super 14 final in Christchurch on Saturday night, they can thank Sydney University Football Club for providing a third of the players.

When a persistent hamstring injury forced number eight David Lyons to withdraw from the squad on Thursday, an SOS went out for young Sydney University flanker Pat McCutcheon to fly to New Zealand as insurance.

He’ll join second-rowers Dan Vickerman, Dean Mumm and Will Caldwell, flanker and Waratahs captain Phil Waugh, and inside-centre Tom Carter in the NSW squad.

Having missed most of the World Cup last year after breaking his leg, the last-minute withdrawal of Lyons was most disappointing for the veteran backrower, who has 106 games for NSW under his belt to go with 44 Tests for Australia.

As he has signed a contract to join the Welsh club Llanelli in August, he could well have played his last games for NSW and Sydney University.

NSW coach Ewen McKenzie was disappointed for Lyons. “We were confident he’d be thereabouts, but his leg’s not good enough to keep doing,” McKenzie said.

“It’s disappointing for him because he’s been such a stalwart for us and we were hopeful on account of his experience. But he’s a good enough team man to know he couldn’t give us 100 per cent. He put his hand up and said, ‘I’m not right’.”

Skipper Waugh, who joined the Waratahs the same year as Lyons, said he will call on his long-time team-mate to address the NSW players before they take the field against the Crusaders.

“He deserves to be playing in the final, it’s very disappointing that he misses out,” Waugh said.