Waratahs pumped with injection

2011-11-07 08:11

Sydney - Stalwarts Phil Waugh, Al Baxter and Luke Burgess may well be gone from the Waratahs next year, but playmaker Daniel Halangahu says the injection of new blood and a new coach have given the side a new lease on life.

''It is a bit of a fresh start,'' said Halangahu, who returned to training with the side last Monday. ''On the field last year I think we were so focused on improving statistics from the year before that we lost focus what game we wanted to play and, without speaking too much, it's looking at our game and making it something that we all enjoy playing, and something that is good to watch. It's to form a brand of rugby that suits us. ''Sarel [Pretorius], Bernard [Foley] and Adam Ashley-Cooper, they're all new and can play a number of positions, so no positions are decided on.''

Foley is a former Australian Sevens captain and, at 22, has vast experience playing alongside Halangahu and fellow playmaker Berrick Barnes for University in the Shute Shield. Coach Michael Foley has been impressed with the light-footed playmaker, who topped the fitness charts in testing last week.

''Something we do have at the Waratahs is Bernard and I have played a fair bit together, and Berrick as well,'' Halangahu said.

''The three of us have all played together a fair bit and all three of us have fitted into the same team with Tommy [Carter] as well, so we've got those combinations where we can all move around. There's a bit of versatility amongst the three of us.

''And we've got Adam Ashley-Cooper coming in, who is a great player and a great guy, and he'll fit really well into our side. He's a player that people have often said is too versatile for his own good - he's played in that many positions. A lot of people will say he's the natural choice to go in at fullback but Bernard has showed great form there, I've played there and Berrick has played a fair bit there at his club this year as well. There are numerous options there. Even someone like Drew Mitchell could end up there.

''It's a long way away, that first game, but as a squad we've got the talent. It's just a matter of finding positions.''

And the man who finished the year as the first-choice No 10 said the arrival of South African halfback Pretorius would add a new dimension to the Waratahs' game, allowing them to play a faster brand of football. ''I've watched a fair bit of Sarel and he's a pretty fast halfback who moves the ball really well,'' Halangahu said. ''He's really exciting to watch because he has incredible speed around the park. It'll increase the tempo of our game. That was something [Luke Burgess] was quite good at but I think Sarel can take that to a new level.

''He's a pretty small guy when you look at him on the field but he's strong as hell in the gym and he gets around the field incredibly. He'll increase the speed of our game and he'll be a great acquisition.''

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