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NSW Waratahs “barometer” Kurtley Beale is playing in Thursday’s rugby trial against Melbourne Rebels but the nation’s two most established halfbacks will be missing.
Both teams will field eight Wallabies in their starting side with Test lock and new Rebels captain Adam Coleman making his first appearance for the Victorian franchise.
However among the notable absentees are Rebels and Wallabies halfback Will Genia (back) and his Test deputy and Waratahs No.9 Nick Phipps (calf).
Also missing will be three Wallabies with knee issues: Rebels winger Marika Koroibete and backrower Richard Hardwick and Waratahs lock-blindside flanker Ned Hanigan.
Beale, who is about to begin his third stint with the Tahs and is a former Rebel, pulled out of last week’s Tens tournament with an elbow injury.
“He’s like the barometer of the team, KB, when he’s up the whole team is up and you feel when there’s a loss that he hates it,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said.
“He’s great to have in the changing room, he lives and breathes the Tahs, so it’s great to have him back.”
Former Reds lock and Wallabies stalwart Rob Simmons will make his debut for NSW.
“He’s been fantastic since coming to Sydney, he’s pumped to play and pumped to prove a point,” Hooper said.
The match also marks the return of Waratahs and Wallabies fullback Israel Folau, who was rested from last year’s spring tour.
“He’s mentally refreshed, he looks in fantastic shape, so I know he’ll be coming out and wanting to prove a point,” Hooper said.
Both teams will be looking to build combinations and confidence after being heavily beaten in their first trials.
Tha Tahs were defeated 55-29 by the Highlanders and the Rebels were flogged 50-19 by the Brumbies.
NSW Waratahs: Israel Folau, Alex Newsome, Curtis Rona, Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper (capt), Michael Wells, Rob Simmons, Tom Staniforth, Paddy Ryan, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson.
Melbourne Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty, Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu, Jack Debreczeni, Michael Ruru, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Lopeti Timani, Adam Coleman (capt), Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Jordan Uelese, Tetera Faulkner