Sarel Pretorius’ long overdue recall for the Waratahs looks set for Friday night and the tough encounter with the in-the-pink Bulls at Allianze Stadium.
Pretorius debuted with a man-of-the-match performance against the Reds, only to be pipped 25-21 at the post by a runaway try after the final hooter by flying winger Dom Shipperley.
Those 75 metres Shipperley travelled seems to have defined the season for the underwhelming Waratahs, who were gutted at the time, and for a long time afterwards.
Pretorius should not have been a subsequent casualty.
The South African marquee half-back has been cooling his heels on the bench for the last six games while replacement Brendan McKibbin has been keeping the Waratahs in touch with some superb goal-kicking, but not fulfilling his major role as number 9.
On April 14, I wrote Sarel Pretorius must start for the Waratahs.
It looks as though that will happen, but it should have been much earlier.
Fly-half Berrick Barnes will relish the swifter, more accurate, service from Pretorius with the added bonus of trailing his half-back who thrives on making a break from set or broken play.
Pretorius is a very street smart rugby footballer.
Those are the qualities he brings to the selection table. And it’s high time Waratahs coach Michael Foley not only re-recognised those talents, but dropped others who have been retained too long on a promise of better things to come.
In 10 games this season, the Waratahs have only beaten the Rebels twice, Sharks, and the Force.
They’ve lost to the Reds, Highlanders, Chiefs, Force, Crusaders, and Brumbies. It’s been a story of same old, same old – the Waratahs have largely contributed to their own demise.
Pretorius will put some bottle into this side. So too Rocky Elsom, who has come off the bench in his first two games of the season.
He was appointed captain pre-season, and must take over as skipper starting Friday.
Daniel Halangahu and Benn Robinson have not rattled too many cages while they’ve been at the helm.
Outside-centre Rob Horne is back from suspension, so too flanker Chris Alcock, after an appendix operation. Two stiffeners.
On paper it appears all too late to make the play-offs, but you never know.
What the side desperately needs is a good win against a top side. The Bulls are just that.
But if the Waratahs play anything like they did against the Brumbies, the Bulls “could well declare at half-time”.
And that would be that. Shut up shop time.