Wait almost over for Folau
Wait almost over for FolauSHARE
The wait is almost over as the Waratahs prepare to kick off their 2013 season against the Rebels in Hobart on Saturday.
Amongst those eagerly awaiting the first outing of the new season are code-hopper and rookie Israel Folau, who will play his first game of Rugby Union since high school.
Coach Michael Cheika is also eagerly awaiting the outcome of his team's first outing.
Also included in Cheika's 28-man squad for the first of the team's three Super Rugby curtain raisers are five other new recruits.
Amongst those pulling on the sky blue jersey for the first time are Hobart-born lock Ollie Atkins and former Rebel Luke Holmes.
The side will be led by captain Brendan McKibbin.
The 27-year-old scrumhalf will be assisted by two vice-captains in prop Jeremy Tilse and flyhalf Bernard Foley.
Foley, part of the Wallabies training squad in 2012, will be looking to unlock the Rebels' defence and unleash the Waratahs backline that includes Folau and seasoned Wallaby centre Rob Horne.
However, the threats aren't all out wide, as Foley has a deceptively dangerous running game, shaped from his time at fullback and days playing for the Australian Sevens team.
And although the Rebels have opted to rest star playmaker Kurtley Beale, the match represents the return to action from injury for another of their superstars, Wallaby James O'Connor, who will no doubt be looking to prove his fitness and desire to cement a place in the Australia squad in the year of a British and Irish Lions tour Down Under.
Co-captain alongside O'Connor will be another seasoned international, influential Wales No.8 Gareth Delve.
FIRST HALF: 15 Alex Rokobaro, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O'Connor (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Tim Davidson, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Eddie Aholelei.
SECOND HALF: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Alex Rokobaro, 13 Tom English, 12 Lachie Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Trent Dyer, 7 Jarrod Saffy, 6 Cadeyrn Neville, 5 James King, 4 Chris Thomson, 3 Paul Alo-Amile, 2 Pat Leafa/Shota Horie, 1 Nic Henderson (captain).
Waratahs squad: Michael Alaalatoa, Richard Aho, Kotoni Ale, Ollie Atkins, Peter Betham, Wayne Borzak, Tom Carter, Cam Crawford, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Grayson Hart, Michael Hodge, Luke Holmes, Rob Horne, AJ Gilbert, Tom Kingston, Matt Lucas, Brendan McKibbin (captain), Tolu Latu, Dane Maraki, Elijah Niko, Greg Peterson, Jeremy Tilse, Lopeti Timani, Peter Samu, Will Skelton, John Ulugia, Ben Volavola.
Date: Saturday February 2
Venue: North Hobart Football Club, Hobart
Kick-off: 17.30 (06.30 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Ed Martin, Richard Goswell