Teenage speedsters Alfi Mafi and Rob Horne have been called up to fill the breach after Timana Tahu was ruled out of Friday night’s Super 14 blockbuster with the ACT Brumbies at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The NSWRU Media Unit reports that Mafi will make his first appearance in the HSBC Waratahs starting XV in place of Tahu who has been forced out with a strained hamstring.
“I’m really disappointed to miss this game, because obviously the local derby with the Brumbies is one of our biggest matches,” said Tahu.
“I was feeling a bit tight yesterday, so I went him for an MRI which has shown a strain.
“It’s too big a risk to play this week, so I’m making sure I do all the right things in rehab so I’m back on deck for the Crusaders match after the bye.
Eighteen-year-old Horne moves onto the bench, which along with flyhalf Kurtley Beale (19) sees three teenagers named in the 22-man squad.
“It’s a young backline – younger than the Brumbies, in fact,” added McKenzie.
“The Brumby backline was really impressive against Queensland, so it could be quite a spectacle seeing them take on our young charges.”
Al Baxter’s place on the bench has also been confirmed, with the Test prop recovering from a head knock in round two against the Chiefs.
Waratahs: 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. Alfi Mafi, 15. Lachie Turner.
Reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Al Baxter, 18. Dean Mumm, 19. Beau Robinson, 20. Luke Burgess, 21. Sam Harris, 22. Rob Horne.