Beale and Foley team up for Tahs

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 06:58
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Bernard Foley has won the initial battle for the Waratahs flyhalf berth while Kurtley Beale will start at inside centre against the Force.

Bernard Foley has won the initial battle for the Waratahs flyhalf berth while Kurtley Beale will start at inside centre in their Super Rugby opener against the Force.

The two players were expected to contend for the playmaker role, but after some impressive pre-season outings coach Michael Cheika has decided to start both players.

He said: "They've both had some good touches in the trials and have enjoyed playing alongside each other. It may take a little longer for them to gel but I'll give them the time."

Foley gives the Waratahs the shape and direction that Cheika is looking for and while Beale will also be playing to instructions, he provides the X-factor.

The Waratahs backline is laden with players ready to showcase their skills.

Israel Folau was highly impressive in the No.15 jersey last season, and with a season of rugby under his belt he is sure to keep opposition defences on their toes from fullback.   

Making his debut on the right wing is the quick-stepping Alofa Alofa, whilst Wallaby Peter Betham is on the left.

In his favourite position at outside centre and partnering Beale is Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Joining the franchise after a stint with the Rebels, scrumhalf Nick Phipps becomes the fourth member of his family to play for the Waratahs.

In the pack, the front row is all-Wallaby, with Benn Robinson and Tatafu Polota Nau teaming up with Paddy Ryan, who edges out Sekope Kepu.

"Both have their pluses and there is very little between them but Paddy has had a little bit more aggression and grunt in the trials," said Cheika on his decision.

Selecting the locks has been one of the hardest decisions for the coach, who has opted for Kane Douglas and 21-year-old Will Skelton and left out former Springbok Jacques Potgieter.

"I think Skelton has done enough to warrant an opportunity," said Cheika.

Captain Dave Dennis and Michael Hooper are the flankers, with the seasoned Wycliff Palu playing No.8.

Waratahs:  15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.  
Replacements: 16 Tola Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Stephen Hoiles/Pat McCutcheon, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Rob Horne, 23 Matt Carraro/Cam Crawford.  

Date: Sunday, February 23
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 16.05 (05.05 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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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