Nine club debutants named in new-look Waratahs side

Stirling Coates Roar Guru

By Stirling Coates, Stirling Coates is a Roar Guru

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    The Waratahs will bring a whopping nine new names to the field on Saturday night as they begin their Super Rugby season against the Stormers at Allianz Stadium.

    Seven players will be pulling on the sky blue jersey for the first time, while another two will be making their Super Rugby debuts. Combined with the return of Kurtley Beale, it will be a side almost unrecognisable to the one that won just four games a season ago.

    Beale will begin his third stint at the club at inside centre, with his 124 games of experience contrasting greatly with outside centre Lalakei Foketi – who is back in Super Rugby after playing two matches with Melbourne in 2014 as 19-year-old.

    Wallaby Curtis Rona will make his Waratahs debut on the left wing, playing opposite Andrew Kellaway, while the more familiar faces of Israel Folau at fullback, vice-captain Bernard Foley at No. 10 and Jake Gordon – who will start at scrumhalf – rounding out the backs.

    The Waratahs will debut an all-new lock combination in ex-Brumby Tom Staniforth and former Queensland Red Rob Simmons, although the rest of the forward pack consists of club veterans, including skipper Michael Hooper at openside flanker.

    Ex-Force trio Shambeckler Vui, Mitchell Short and Alex Newsome will begin their Waratahs careers on the bench, while Harry Johnson-Holmes and Nick Palmer will make their Super Rugby debuts from the pine as well.

    Coach Daryl Gibson said the Waratahs will need to “up the tempo” after a slow start against the Rebels last week.

    “The game against the Stormers will be a physical contest and it’s a chance for our guys to show what they have, and what we have been focusing on delivering,” he said.

    Waratahs vs Stormers – Key Game Info

    Date: Saturday, February 24
    Kick-Off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
    Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
    Waratahs Squad: 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Damien Fitzpatrick, 3. Paddy Ryan, 4. Tom Staniforth, 5. Rob Simmons, 6. Ned Hanigan, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Michael Wells, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Bernard Foley (vc), 11. Curtis Rona, 12. Kurtley Beale, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Israel Folau, 16. Hugh Roach, 17. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18. Shambeckler Vui, 19. Nick Palmer, 20. Jed Holloway, 21. Mitchell Short, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Alex Newsome

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • February 22nd 2018 @ 5:03pm
      Malo said | February 22nd 2018 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

      Ffs I thought Hanigan was injured , I’ll be putting my money on the Stormers 13 +.

    • February 22nd 2018 @ 6:43pm
      Paul D said | February 22nd 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

      Interesting to see Rona on the wing. Is this about dropping Beale back still?

      Having said that I’m keen to see Foketi at 13. I have not seen much aside from his u20’s highlights package but he looks to be strong in contact and good over the ball. Haven’t had that in a 13 since AAC. I hope he has AAC defensive reading too. That’s been sorely missed.

      I hope the forwards have bulked up over the preseason

      • February 22nd 2018 @ 8:53pm
        Fionn said | February 22nd 2018 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

        Do you mean for the Tahs or Wallabies? Kuridrani isn’t hitting the line with the ferocity of 2013-15, but I think he’s still pretty strong in contact and good over the ball. He and Ashley-Cooper were similar players in a lot of ways actually.

        • February 22nd 2018 @ 9:29pm
          Paul D said | February 22nd 2018 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

          Well obviously about the Tahs. That’s what the story is about. And I’m not one to talk about someone who hasnt even played super rugby in Wallaby context.

          • Roar Guru

            February 22nd 2018 @ 9:32pm
            Fionn said | February 22nd 2018 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

            No, not obviously or I wouldn’t have asked. I’m not talking about anyone who hasn’t played SR in Wallaby context? I was talking about AAC and Kuridrani.

            • February 24th 2018 @ 7:50am
              John R said | February 24th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

              Nah man, it was obvious – when was the last time AAC played 13 for the Wallabies.

        • February 23rd 2018 @ 3:05pm
          Dan in Devon said | February 23rd 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

          I would prefer someone who wasn’t just simply good in contact but who could find space and has a good step with a bit of pace – like Jonathan Joseph.

    • February 22nd 2018 @ 8:45pm
      Gepetto said | February 22nd 2018 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

      For the first time in my life, I feel sorry for NSW Super rugby fans. That said, South African teams play seem to play poorly on tour except when the Sharks thrashed the Reds in Brisbane in 2012

    • February 22nd 2018 @ 10:35pm
      Daveski said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

      All this talk of Tahs being favourites for the Aus conference.

      Not with that forward pack. Ryan at 3. Only one proper lock. A lightweight front row. An honest toiler at 8. Hmm.

      Kellaway would have been my fourth choice starter behind Newsome, Taqele, Clark…

      Hope to be proven wrong and looking forward to see Newsome, HJH, Vui and Holloway off the bench.

    • February 23rd 2018 @ 12:15am
      Malo said | February 23rd 2018 @ 12:15am | ! Report

      Having already had a proper gAme must be a big advantage, Stormers for me if they take the game seriously. But Tahs have a great backline but a very soft pack. It will be a backs vs forwards game.

      • February 24th 2018 @ 7:51am
        John R said | February 24th 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        Hey Malo, why did you put a capital A in the word ‘game’ there?

        • February 24th 2018 @ 1:21pm
          Malo said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

          No reason

    • February 23rd 2018 @ 9:20am
      Stormers by 5 said | February 23rd 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Because who trusts Hanigan having an impact?

      • February 24th 2018 @ 10:52pm
        Paul D said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

        In hindsight, this is funny. ??

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