Tahs ready to break Pretoria drought
Tahs ready to break Pretoria droughtSHARE
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has backed his Dave Dennis-led side to deliver the goods against the South African conference-leading Bulls in Pretoria this weekend.
After last week's 25-20 win over the 2012 Super Rugby champions the Chiefs, the Waratahs have now won their last three home games and a victory in Pretoria would be a massive boost to the side.
The last time NSW beat the Bulls in any match was 23-13 in the 2005 Super 12 semifinal in Sydney and victory in Pretoria has been even harder to come by, with the Waratahs' last win an impressive 51-19 effort back in 2002.
Cheika believes the selection of hardworking and courageous wing Tom Kingston combined with an unrelenting forward pack will help deliver NSW's first win in Pretoria in over a decade.
"Tom Kingston was unlucky to miss out last week when I picked Cam Crawford," said the coach.
"I felt that this might be a good game for Tom, he's very hard working and we expect that there's going to be a lot of kicks to chase, so a lot of running forward and back," he said, before adding that he also expected to give replacement wing Peter Betham a chance in the latter stages.
"The way the Bulls play we'll have to use everyone this week."
The game will be Tatafu Polota-Nau's 100th provincial game for NSW.
First capped in 2005 against Auckland, Cheika expects the physicality of the Pretoria clash to suit the battering ram hooker.
"It should be a good game for him to show his skills off in his 100th cap.
"We've got an opportunity to show that we can compete in the most difficult of circumstances, it's like a cauldron over here, guys like Tatafu, Cliff, Sita, they love that physical confrontation and battle, and this game should suit them. The Bulls bring a good body height and a great attitude to contact. If we want to be able to attack and get that opportunity, the platform must be laid."
The Waratahs' victory over the Chiefs last weekend was the side's third win in a row and the game against the Bulls offers a great opportunity to continue to build on that momentum.
"For sure, this is our biggest battle of the season so far," admitted Cheika.
"The squad has trained hard all week and I'm pretty happy with the attitude of everyone here. Now it's a case of resting up before the game and seeing how we go.
"[Playing sides like Bulls] is part of our improvement and development. We've got to be able to compete, we've got to become more consistent. We got to have no doubt, and just get stuck in. I'm looking forward to it."