The number of teams set to test the waters at the newly-built Western Sydney Stadium has grown, with the Waratahs today announcing they’ll play three home games at the venue next season.
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Outsiders always think that we have internal competition for Wallabies spots in a team like the Waratahs.
I don’t see that at all.
The Wallabies tests against Ireland are eight weeks away and if your team’s going well then the majority of your players going to get in the national squad.
I’m sure the Waratahs will be rewarded with a lot of our guys gaining Wallabies selection if the rest of our season is successful.
I’ve been lucky enough to have 18 Wallaby caps in my career and I’d love to add to that tally but at this stage it’s well and truly Super Rugby as a focus which starts on Friday against the Lions at Allianz Stadium.
The Lions are on top of the South African conference at the moment so they’re the team to beat.
They’ve got a lot of Springbok representatives and they possess a big forward pack.
They’re just a typical tough South African side.
They’re big in the set piece and their big hard ball carriers will try and get over the gain line and we’ll need to be aware of their speedsters sneaking behind.
Our forwards will have the big task at the set-piece and around the field to match their physicality, but I’m sure our backs can do a job on them.
This game against the Lions is extra special as it’s part of an Anzac round.
We don’t get to play on Anzac Day itself but we’re paying tribute to all those men and women who have served for our country in this match.
We’ve got a lot of people in the squad with Anzac history in their families so none of us are taking the occasion lightly.
Both my grandfather and my great-grandfather were ANZACs and one of them served in New Guinea in communications and the other was in the Light Horse Brigade in Africa so it’s a pretty big family history of mine and it’s something we’re all very proud of.
We’re coming off a massive win against our old foes in the Queensland Reds and it was amazing to play on the SCG for the first time since the 80s in our heritage jerseys.
It was a solid performance against the Reds but we still have a few things to work on.
We spoke about it last year how we weren’t happy with our performances and how we were going as a team and I think a lot of small changes have been put in place to make the club culture a lot better and make our training environment and playing environment a lot better as well.
Obviously, we had a new coach and new staff come in.
Our strength and conditioning coach and our forwards coach Simon Cron are doing excellent jobs at the moment as well so they’re definitely part of our success as well this year.
If we take the foot off the accelerator, we’ll get beaten and so the coaching staff have made sure all our focus is being put into the preparation for another huge home game.
We play better when there are big crowds and it’s an incredible feeling when someone like Kurtly Beale makes a chip and chase down the sideline and the crowd erupts. Even as a prop forward when you hear the supporters get excited by that it gets you up for it and gives you more energy and sucks the energy away from the other team.
Even though we have a bye coming up next week, we’re not thinking about that at all.
We do have the kiwi teams on the horizon but the Lions are what we’re focused on and they’re a massive challenge before we even get to that point.
The Waratahs continue their Super Rugby campaign this weekend at home against the Lions, so be sure to get your hands on a NSW Waratahs membership so you can access all home games in 2018.