Rob Penney has handed league convert Tepai Moeroa his first Super Rugby start in the Waratahs’ must-win clash against the Melbourne Rebels.
Moeroa hasn’t played in Super Rugby AU yet but has been handed the no.12 jersey with Karmichael Hunt ruled out through injury. Joey Walton has been moved to outside centre and Lalakai Foketi misses out on the squad entirely.
The rest of the NSW starting side remains unchanged, although young back-rower Will Harris is an inclusion on the bench.
The Rebels have opted for stability for Saturday night’s match, naming the same backline that ran out against the Reds prior to their bye last week. In the forwards, Jermaine Ainsley comes into the starting front row, pushing Pone Fa’amausili to the reserves, while Michael Wells comes into the back row at blindside flanker for Josh Kemeny.
Dave Wessels has also opted for a 5-3 bench split instead of the six forwards he carried on the pine in Round 7.
After making 16 changes for last round’s win over the Tahs, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has made just one to his starting XV to take on the Force on Friday night, bringing in Joe Powell for Ryan Lonergan.
Ryan’s brother Lachlan also drops out of the squad, allowing Folau Fianga’a to return from a calf niggle on the bench, while a switch to three backs on the bench instead of two sees young playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa come in for Tom Cusack.
As for the Force, Tim Sampson has gone with seven of the same eight forwards that started against the Reds, the only change to the pack being a move to the bench for back-rower Brynard Stander. Henry Stowers will start at number eight.
In the backs, Henry Taefu swaps places with Richard Kahui, the former starting at no.12 and the latter named to come off the bench, while Byron Ralston is a notable omission. Marcel Brache will start on the right wing, Jack McGregor at fullback, and Jono Lance returns to the run-on side at flyhalf.
Friday, 7:05pm (AEST), GIO Stadium
1. James Slipper, 2. Connal McInerney, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Murray Douglas, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Lachlan McCaffrey, 7. Will Miller, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Bayley Kuenzle, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Solomone Kata, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks
Bench: 16. Folau Fainga’a, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Rob Valetini, 21. Nic White, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Len Ikitau
1. Pek Cowan, 2. Andrew Ready, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Ollie Atkins, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Henry Stowers, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Henry Taefu, 13. Kyle Godwin, 14. Marcel Brache, 15. Jack McGregor
Bench: 16. Feleti Kaitu’u, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Tom Sheminant, 19. Tevin Ferris, 20. Brynard Stander, 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Richard Kahui, 23. Jake Strachan
Saturday, 7:15pm (AEST), Leichhardt Oval
1. Cameron Orr, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Trevor Hosea, 6. Michael Wells, 7. Brad Wilkin, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Matt To’omua (c), 13. Campbell Magnay, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Reece Hodge
Bench: 16. Efitusi Maafu, 17. Cabous Eloff, 18. Pone Fa’amausili, 19. Michael Stolberg, 20. Richard Hardwick, 21. James Tuttle, 22. Bill Meakes, 23. Tom Pincus
1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Ned Hanigan, 5. Rob Simmons (c), 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Joey Walton, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks
Bench: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Angus Bell, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Will Harris, 21. Mitch Short, 22. Ben Donaldson, 23. Nick Malouf