Six Wallabies return for Tahs

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 08:37
Large waratahs v rebels

The Waratahs have named six Wallabies in their 28-man squad to take on the Blues in a trial fixture in Whangarei on Saturday.

The Waratahs have named six Wallabies in their 28-man squad to take on the Blues in a trial fixture in Whangarei on Saturday.

Former Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper will make his debut for the Waratahs and is among six Wallabies named in the 'Tahs squad for the match.

The 21-year-old Wallaby breakaway was born in New South Wales and says he can’t wait to pull the Waratahs' jersey on for the first time.

"I can’t wait to get into it," Hooper said.

Hooper, who has become a regular fixture in the Wallabies set-up after the injury to David Pocock,  has gained vital international experience over the past 12 months.

"I’ve watched the Waratahs from when I was a kid, my mum and dad supported the Waratahs and they were the team I went for.

"To be able to finally play for them is something that definitely gets me excited and keen to go for the game," he added.

Hooper is one of six changes to the 28-man squad from last week’s 24-16 win over the Rebels in Hobart. The side will be led once again by skipper Brendan McKibbin.  

Coach Michael Cheika has regained the services of a number of Wallabies for the match against the Blues.

"Paddy Ryan is coming back, as are Michael Hooper, Kane Douglas, Drew Mitchell and Lachlan Turner," said the head coach.

The squad also features Southern Districts’ lock Jed Holloway, who like Hooper, will represent the team for the first time in New Zealand.  

After a great Super Rugby season with the Brumbies in 2012 Hooper made the switch from Canberra to Sydney in what was possibly a great career move with Pocock joing the Canberra outfit from the Force.

The match will be the team’s penultimate hit out before their Super Rugby season starts against the Reds up in Brisbane on Saturday, February 23.      

"The key here is about getting game hard and feeling the way with your team mates," added Cheika, adding that he planned to give everyone in the squad as much game time as possible.

Cheika’s final chance to get his players that valuable game time will come next Thursday when the Waratahs take on an all-star Crusaders side at the Allianz Stadium under the leadership of new captain Dave Dennis.

Waratahs squad: Michael Alaalatoa, Richard Aho,Kotoni Ale, Tom Carter, Cam Crawford, Kane Douglas, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Michael Hodge, Jed Holloway, Luke Holmes, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, AJ Gilbert, Tom Kingston, Matt Lucas, Brendan McKibbin (captain), Tolu Latu, Dane Maraki, Drew Mitchell, Elijah Niko, Greg Peterson, Paddy Ryan, Jeremy Tilse, Lachie Turner, Peter Samu, Will Skelton, John Ulugia, Ben Volavola.

Date: 9 February 2013
Venue: Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Kick-off: 16:30 (05:30 GMT)
Referee: Jono White

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26