Cheika backs Bulls-beaters
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:18
Wycliff Palu returns to the matchday 23
Waratahs head coach Michael Chieka has named an unchanged side to face the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
Cheika has kept the faith with the same starting line-up that did the job in their 19-12 win over the Bulls in Sydney last week.
After notching up an important away against the Stormers in South Africa three weeks ago, Cheika's charges are now looking to add a second away victory to their record.
Although the Waratahs won the last competitive encounter against the Blues (as well as February’s pre-season trial), it has been five years since their last away win, a narrow 27-22 Phil Waugh-led victory at Eden Park back in March 2009.
The only other two contests to be played in Auckland since then both came in 2011, when the Blues recorded back to back wins, with the latter (a 26-13 Super Rugby qualifying final result) ending the Waratahs’ finals hopes.
This Friday’s crucial ANZAC Day encounter will see the Waratahs field an all-Wallaby front row, with Benn Robinson at loosehead prop, Sekope Kepu at tighthead prop and Tatafu Polota Nau at hooker.
Playing his best rugby of the season, Will Skelton retains his position at lock alongside the resilient Kane Douglas, who’ll earn his 66th Waratahs cap.
Crowd favourite Jacques Potgieter will start at blindside flank. On the openside is last week’s Man of the Match, Michael Hooper, and captain Dave Dennis is at the back of the pack at eighthman.
Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue their run of starting every game this season in the scrumhalf and flyhalf positions, with the latter needing just 17 points to become the Waratahs’ eighth most prolific Super Rugby points-scorer.
Recovering from an injured ankle, Kurtley Beale will start at inside centre with Adam Ashley Cooper, who is chasing seven points to rack up for 100 Super Rugby points, at number 13.
The back three will see wingers Rob Horne and Cam Crawford combined with fullback Israel Folau, who needs just one more try to equal the Waratahs’ record for most individual Super Rugby tries in a season.
There is a change on the replacements bench however, as Cheika has named a nine-man bench to travel to Auckland, with one player still to be omitted to form the matchday 23.
Veteran Wycliff Palu returns to the matchday 23 via the bench after missing the last two games.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Pat McCutcheon, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Stephen Hoiles.
Date: Friday, April 24
Venue: Eden Park Auckland
Kick-off: 17.35 (05.35 GMT; 15.35 AEST)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
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