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By HSBC Waratahs Media Unit
This weekend, HSBC Waratahs winger Drew Mitchell will become the 25th Australian to celebrate his Super Rugby century.
Mitchell will earn his 100th Super Rugby cap on Saturday evening at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium. Fittingly, he will earn it against his former Queensland team mates.
And as both teams prepare for their last match of the regular season, Mitchell knows that finals spot or no finals spot, neither team needs any additional motivation. The fierce interstate rivalry between the HSBC Waratahs and Queensland Reds is one of Australian sport's oldest sporting rivalries and dates back 130 years.
During that time, the two sides have met on 293 occasions. By far the dominant side, NSW have recorded almost twice as many victories as their Queensland rivals, winning 187 matches to 94, with the scores tied 12 times.
But since Super Rugby began in 1996, the tables have turned. Two states have met on 18 occasions, most recently in Sydney in the opening round of the 2012 season when the visitors grabbed a last minute try to seal a closely-contested victory. The win took Queensland's tally to 10, with NSW having taken the honours on seven occasions and the sides recording one draw.
For Mitchell, this weekend's match is as significant as any that have gone before. The Reds need a big win to keep their finals hopes alive and the HSBC Waratahs are searching for a performance that NSW can be proud of as they close out their season.
"It's not about us trying to spoil their year or anything like that," said Mitchell, who started his career back with the Reds before a spell at the Force. "I had four years there (with Queensland) and I guess the irony is it's my 100th this weekend and I get to play where it started."
Completing his century is an achievement the 28-year-old will be proud of. "It's taken me 16 or 17 months to get the last four but it was always something I wanted to achieve." Having had his patience tested to make it this far, Mitchell is hoping he can celebrate his achievement with a victory on Saturday night. "Their intent will be to go out there and score four tries and it could one of two ways,'' he said of the Reds' gameplan.
"They could at their lethal best, which is a pretty dangerous prospect. They are obviously capable of scoring tries but I think there is a risk there. If they are going out there intent on scoring tries, it might loosen up a little bit.
"The thing for us is we've just got to understand we don't have to change our game entirely - we're doing a lot of good things.
"We've got enough motivation at the moment to go out there and be up for this game, whether it's the Reds or not."
Providing Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore takes to the field for his 100th cap in Canberra on Saturday afternoon, Mitchell will become the 25th Australian Rugby player to achieve his Super Rugby century. Of those that precede him, only six are still in active competition.
Players to have appeared for Australian teams who are Super Rugby Centurions 1996-2012
*161 Nathan Sharpe (Queensland Reds/Western Force)
*138 Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies/Melbourne Rebels)
136 George Gregan (Brumbies)
136 Caleb Ralph (Chiefs/Blues/Crusaders -- all NZ/Queensland Reds)
132 Phil Waugh (NSW Waratahs)
131 Greg Somerville (Crusaders -- NZ/Melbourne Rebels)
128 George Smith (Brumbies)
123 Sean Hardman (Queensland Reds)
121 Al Baxter (NSW Waratahs)
116 Stephen Larkham (Brumbies)
113 Jeremy Paul (Brumbies)
111 Matt Dunning (NSW Waratahs/Western Force)
109 Chris Latham (NSW Waratahs/Queensland Reds)
107 Chris Whitaker (NSW Waratahs)
106 Brendan Cannon (NSW Waratahs/Queensland Reds/Western Force)
*106 Mark Gerrard (NSW Waratahs/Brumbies/Melbourne Rebels)
106 Scott Staniforth (NSW Waratahs/Western Force)
*104 Adam Freier (Brumbies/NSW Waratahs/Melbourne Rebels)
104 Matt Giteau (Brumbies/Western Force)
103 Mark Chisholm (Brumbies)
*103 Nic Henderson (Brumbies/Melbourne Rebels)
100 David Lyons (NSW Waratahs)
100 Bill Young (Brumbies)
*99 Stephen Moore (Queensland Res/Brumbies)
*99 Drew Mitchell (Queensland Reds/Western Force/NSW Waratahs)
* denotes players still 'active' in the competition
Statistics provided by the ARU and compiled with the assistance of New Zealand Rugby Almanack co-editor Geoff Miller.
Sat Mar 19, 7:40PM AEDT
Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney