NSW Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson rung in three changes to his starting XV ahead of their home game v the Blues at Brookvale Oval.
It’s Week 12 of the 2018 Vodafone Super Rugby Season as they rank on top of the Australian Conference ladder ahead of the Melbourne Rebels by three points.
In the overall standings, they currently sit in third behind the Lions and Crusaders.
One change in the loose forward pack
Will Miller will start at Blindside Flanker alongside skipper Michael Hooper at Openside Flanker and Michael Wells at Number 8.
Miller just re-signed his contract extension until the end of next season, so let’s see what he has got to offer in his ability at his usual position.
For Ned Hanigan, it does not mean that he will shift to the bench after he played at Miller’s spot two weeks ago v the Lions.
However, he will keep his starting spot this time at Second Row in the No.4 shirt.
A couple of positions shuffling in the attack
Kurtley Beale will join Lalakai Foketi at Inside Centre position in the No.12 jersey.
Cam Clark, aged 25 from Auckland, New Zealand, will make his first start of the season at Right Wing.
And Israel Folau will complete the Waratahs Week 11 Starting XV at Full-Back.
Folau will make his first Super Rugby game since Round 7 after he came off with a hamstring injury during a 24-17 win v the Brumbies over a month ago.
Unlike Hanigan, both Bryce Hegarty and Curtis Rona will be demoted to the bench on Saturday.
Starting XV v the Blues (Number denotes number of NSW caps)
- Tom Robertson, 34
- Damien Fitzpatrick, 39
- Sekope Kepu, 114
- Ned Hanigan, 22
- Rob Simmons, 5
- Will Miller, 6
- Michael Hooper, Captain-87
- Michael Wells, 23
- Jake Gordon, 18
- Bernard Foley, Vice Captain- 95
- Taqele Naiyaravoro, 40
- Kurtley Beale, 117
- Lalakai Foketi, 7
- Cam Clark, 15
- Israel Folau, 80
- Hugh Roach, 37
- Harry Johnson-Holmes, 7
- Paddy Ryan, 100
- Tom Staniforth, 7
- Jed Holloway, 32
- Nick Phipps, 63
- Curtis Rona, 7
- Bryce Hegarty, 21
It’s great to have Lalakai Foketi take an opportunity to play with Kurtley Beale at Outside Centre.
He played eight games so far this Super Rugby season with 355 minutes on the field.
- 0.1/One Try, Round 5 v Rebels on 18 March in the 39th minute.
- 0.1/One Try Assist
- 0.6/Five Points
- 9.1/73 Possessions
- 4.8/38 Runs
- 45/362 Run Metres
- 0.5/One Line Break/Line Break Assist
- 1.9/15 Tackle Busts
- 0.5/One Offload
- 4/32 Passes
- 0.3/Two Kicks
- 3/28 Kick Metres
Defense & Discipline
- 0.8/Five Turnovers
- 0.4/Five Handling Errors
- 0.6/Three Penalties Conceded
- 3.8/30 Tackles
- 0.5/Four Missed Tackles
- 0.4/Three Ineffective Tackles
- 81% Tackle Effiency
Foketi will do eveything he can to show his true ability with the pace to keep his prefered spot ahead of Curtis Rona.
Cam Clark is another young gun to watch in the wings position.
Although, he only played two Super Rugby games in 113 minutes so far this season.
- 2/4 Possessions
- 2/4 Runs
- 22/44 Run Metres
- 0.5/One Tackle Busts
- 1/Two Offload
- 1/Two Passes
However, Clark is looking to scare out the Blues defense on his first Super Rugby start of the season when it comes to adding width across the wide areas.
Will Miller has sat on the bench two weeks ago during the Lions game.
Now, he has another opportunity to stamp his chance at Blindside Flanker after re-signed with the Waratahs for next year.
He played seven out of eight Waratahs games in a space of 223 minutes as of Friday, 23 April.
- 0.1/One Try, 19th minute during Round 8 v the Sunwolves
- 0.7/Five Points
- 4/28 Possessions
- 2/14 Runs
- 18/127 Run Metres
- 0.1/One Line Break
- 0.9/Six Tackle Busts
- 0.3/Two Offloads
- 1.3/Ten Passes
- 0.3/Two Line Out Wins
- 0.3/Two Turnovers/Handling Errors
- 0.1/One Penalty Conceded
- 4.9/34 Tackles
- 1/Seven Missed Tackles
- 0.3/Two Ineffective Tackles
- 79% Tackle Effiency
- 0.1/One Pilfer
- 0.3/Two Forced Penalties/Ruck & Maul Penalties
Miller continues to play an important part within the Waratahs squad.
He’s willing to nail down to further develop his position on his own with their defense will be the key in assisting the attack of answering their slump after the Waratahs heavy defeat v the Lions.
Summary on the Waratahs Squad
Daryl Gibson is pleased to have a full-strength side with the return of Israel Folau into the squad.
So far, the Waratahs won five games with three games at home and one match in Japan.
- Stormers, 34-27 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, 24 February
- Rebels, 51-27 at Allianz Stadium on Sunday, 18 March
- Brumbies, 24-17 at GIO Stadium on Saturday, 31 March
- Sunwolves, 50-29 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, 7 April.
- Reds, 27-16 at Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday, 15 April
Though they did draw one v the Sharks in Durban on the 4th of March, 24-24.
However, they lost two matches including their embarrasing defeat v the Lions two weeks ago:
- Jaguares, 38-28 at Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Lions, 29-0 at Allianz Stadium on Friday, 20 April
Overall, Gibson is happy to balance out both youth and experience in the squad as they seek out their sixth win of the 2018 Super Rugby Season.
This Saturday’s opponents, the Blues arrived in Manly with Two wins and Seven losses.
The only time they won games so far in 2018 is against both teams outside of New Zealand:
- Lions, 38-35 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday, 11 March.
- Sunwolves, 24-10 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, 14 April.
They lost four of their home games at Eden Park & one in Dunedin & Waikato which their record in New Zealand isn’t great:
- Highlanders, 41-34 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Friday, 23 February
- Chiefs, 27-21 at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, 2 March
- Sharks, 63-42 at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday, 31 March
- Chiefs, 21-19 at FMG Stadium in Waikato on Saturday, 7 April
- Highlanders, 34-16 at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, 20 April
- Jaguares, 20-13 at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday, 28 April
Things to know before Saturday’s Game
So will the Australian record slump v New Zealand teams with the Blues at Home continue or it is redemption time for the Waratahs?
This Saturday’s game also marks the Charity Round Special where the game will play at Brookvale Oval, Home of the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL.
Tickets are available online via the link here.
The Kick-Off Time is 7.40 PM AEST and if you can’t get to the venue, then it’s LIVE on TV & Online via FOX Sports 506.
At last but not least
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Image/Statistics Source: FOX Sports Australia