Wallaby prop Al Baxter has been ruled out of Saturday’s round three Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Waratahs website reports that Baxter suffered a head knock against the Chiefs last weekend and will be rested.
“He struggled a bit this week with some headaches and although the scans have been positive he’s not ready to play on Saturday,” said HSBC Waratahs Head Coach Ewen McKenzie.
Sekope Kepu comes into the starting line-up at loosehead with Matt Dunning shifting across to tighthead, while Southern Districts and Australian U19 prop Dan Palmer comes on to the bench in place of Benn Robinson.
“We thought about keeping Benn on the bench but we need a specialist tighthead and we’ve been impressed with the development of Dan through the pre-season and the Junior Waratahs.
“This is the right balance for this game.”
McKenzie has rotated Will Caldwell into the starting side with Dean Mumm playing from the bench.
The HSBC Waratahs fly out to New Zealand tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Highlanders keen to get back in the winner’s circle after the last minute loss to the Chiefs in Round 2.
“We’ve got a pretty good record at Carisbrook, but that counts for nothing come Saturday,” said McKenzie.
“I certainly don’t agree with the commentary that the Highlanders are easy beats. They’ve had two losses to start the season, but they were only by six points [v Reds] and two points [v Brumbies].
“If a bit of luck went their way in both matches they’d be in the top four. They will be desperate and that makes them dangerous. We must be on our guard.”
The match will be shown LIVE on Fox Sports 2, and as always a text-based Live Match Call will be available on the NSW Rugby Website at:
Starting XV: 1. Sekope Kepu, 2. Adam Freier, 3. Matt Dunning, 4. Will Caldwell, 5. Dan Vickerman, 6. Rocky Elsom, 7. Phil Waugh [c], 8. Wycliff Palu, 9. Brett Sheehan, 10. Kurtley Beale, 11. Lote Tuqiri, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Ben Jacobs, 14. Timana Tahu, 15. Lachie Turner,
Reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Dan Palmer, 18. Dean Mumm, 19. Beau Robinson, 20. Luke Burgess, 21. Sam Harris, 22. Alfi Mafi.
23rd Man – Pat McCutcheon