Sydney - Coach Michael Foley has issued a raft of changes in a last-ditch
effort to rescue the injury-plagued Waratahs' season as the side
prepares to play its third game in 12 days while shaking off jet lag.
While the fitness of hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is still being monitored
following his concussion a fortnight ago, he is a strong chance of
playing. But the big changes come in the playmaking ranks, with
livewires Brendan McKibbin and Bernard Foley to return at No 9 and
No 15 respectively as Michael Foley looks for flair in attack to negate
the Stormers' brutal defence in Cape Town on Saturday.
''There were some tough decisions to be made but we felt Bernard played
very well at 15 before he was injured and Daniel Halangahu being able to
come on at 10 or 15 gives us a few options and versatility,'' Michael
Foley said. ''Adam Ashley-Cooper gives us that versatility, too, as does
Tom Kingston - and Berrick (Barnes). There will be some changes but a
lot of that has to do with the amount of game time some of the guys have
played, and having others return provides us with some flexibility.''
Barnes will remain at flyhalf and again have Mr Fix-It Adam
Ashley-Cooper at inside centre. And after being replaced by returning
captain Rocky Elsom last week, breakaway Dave Dennis earns a reprieve
and will start at No 8 in place of Wycliff Palu, who will play from the
bench, with Kane Douglas.
''At this stage of the year there are some guys who have played a lot of
rugby and some other guys who have showed some fairly good form off the
bench,'' coach Foley said. ''So it's the same as we did in the Brumbies
game with Dean Mumm, who started on the bench coming back into the
team, and Dave Dennis, who was benched last week, also coming back into
the team. At this stage, there is no one in severe doubt, other than
'Taf' at hooker. It's a case of not wanting to take any risks and unless
he is 100 percent he won't be playing.''
Sitaleki Timani and Dean Mumm will start in the second row for what
shapes as being the most physical game of the Waratahs' season.
''I think from the Stormers perspective, the one thing you know about
them is that their defence is the best in the competition and they use
their kicking game to set that defence up,'' Foley said. ''They kick
the ball into your half and use their defence to force you into error.
They also have a very good goal-kicker, and if they are out of range
they kick for the sideline and maul. That's pretty much their game and
they are very, very patient with their attacking kicking and try and
force you to play a lot of phases without momentum in your own half.''
While the Waratahs would play a physical game, the counter-attacking
of the likes of Bernard Foley, Kingston, Rob Horne and Ashley-Cooper
would be vital. ''There will definitely be opportunities to use the
ball and negate that defence and that's something we know,'' Michael
''You also have to be smart about what you do there. We've learnt from
watching the Crusaders and Reds win games against the Stormers that
attacking with ball in hand as well as contestable kicks will be
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de
Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt
Duvenage, 8. Jebb Sinclair, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5.
Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg,
1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. Frans
Malherbe, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Don Armand, 20. Louis Schreuder,
21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den HeeverWaratahs:
15. Bernard Foley, 14. Tom Kingston, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Adam
Ashley-Cooper, 11. Atieli Pakalani, 10. Berrick Barnes, 9. Brendan
McKibbin, 8. Dave Dennis, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Rocky Elsom (captain), 5.
Sitaleki Timani, 4. Dean Mumm, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. John Ulugia/Tatafu
Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Jeremy
Tilse, 18. Kane Douglas, 19. Jono Jenkins, 20. Wycliff Palu, 21. Sarel
Pretorius, 22. Daniel Halangahu