Waratahs set to ring changes
Sydney - The Waratahs will react to their embarrassing loss to the Brumbies by
making up to seven changes, including the promotion of Sarel Pretorius
and the demotion of Tom Carter, for Friday's game against the
Bulls at Allianz Stadium.
After wasting so many early attacking opportunities in
Canberra, the Waratahs selectors have no option but to revamp their
midfield, with Daniel Halangahu in contention to replace Carter at
inside centre, while Rob Horne will return to outside centre after
returning from suspension.
It is understood the Waratahs selectors were pleased with
Halangahu's performance off the bench last weekend, believing he can
provide better support for flyhalf Berrick Barnes, who played a more
direct game, regularly attacking the gainline with ball in hand.
Halangahu's involvement will give the Waratahs two midfield
After starting five games on the reserves bench
Pretorius, the Waratahs' marquee overseas signing, is due for a recall
to the starting line-up at the expense of Brendan McKibbin, which is not
surprising, as the former Cheetahs halfback intimately knows what to
expect from their South African opponents. McKibbin - who has provided
the Waratahs with consistent goalkicking - and Carter both ran with the
backup squad at yesterday's training session at Moore Park.
While fullback Bernard Foley ran on Monday, it remains
doubtful he will be available because of his shoulder complaint, and it
will be a few days before the selectors know if wing Tom Kingston, who
appeared at outside-centre in Canberra, will play due to a hamstring
The Waratahs pack will also have an overhaul. Openside
breakaway Chris Alcock returns after having his appendix removed, and
captain Rocky Elsom is preparing for his first starting appearance of
the season. Although blindside breakaway Dave Dennis was one of the
Waratahs' best in Canberra, the selectors know it is time for him to
have a break. Although Dennis ran with the team on Monday, and Elsom was
among the onlookers, a No 6 personnel change is imminent.
Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is likely to miss the
Bulls match after suffering several serious head knocks against the
Brumbies. While the Waratahs remain hopeful Polota-Nau will be
available, they will not risk him, and John Ulugia was on Monday preparing as if he was about to take over as run-on hooker. A second row
alteration is also probable.
Coach Michael Foley said the team on Monday reviewed
their 17-point Canberra loss, and it wasn't pleasant. ''We're pretty
disappointed by what happened. Then today we reviewed the game and were
reminded of some of the things we set up for ourselves in that game and
didn't finish off,'' he said.
The Waratahs, nine points behind the Brumbies at the top
of the Australian conference, must win their next three encounters - all
against South African teams - including two in the republic - to stay
in touch. But they know the dangers of looking too far ahead.
''Every team wants to play in the finals, and every team
wants to win the competition. Whether those things are a reality for us
is not for us to think about right now,'' Foley said.
''We just have to play as well as we can in every game we
play. Look at how we started against the Brumbies with the ball in
hand - it was very positive. We were challenging and breaking the line.
But we didn't finish off those chances. Now it is about creating those
opportunities against the Bulls, and this time finishing them off.
''If we start thinking about what's going to happen at the end of the year, we'll take our eye off the ball right now.''