At today’s season launch, HSBC Waratahs head coach Chris Hickey named an experienced side to take on the Hurricanes in round one of the 2009 Super 14 in Wellington on Saturday.
For what will be his first match as head coach in the Super 14, Hickey has named a 24-man squad and selected 17 players who lined up in the 2008 Super 14 Final, eleven of whom have retained their place in the starting side.
Rugbyweek reports that Scott Fava has been selected to start at No.8, and in doing so will become the first player to represent all four Australian Super Rugby provinces – Reds, Brumbies, Western Force and the Waratahs. 2008 Matthew Burke Cup winner Wycliff Palu will make his return from shoulder surgery from the bench.
After a strong pre-season, Ben Mowen will make his NSW debut at blindside flanker while Chris Thomson is also poised to make his first appearance for the Waratahs from the bench
Kurtley Beale has won the hotly contested battle for the No.10 jersey, with Daniel Halangahu earning a place on the bench.
Hickey is yet to settle on his front row reserves; with Adam Freier still to be cleared from injury Damien Fitzpatrick comes into the squad, while Jeremy Tilse and Dan Palmer are in the running as the backup props. A decision on both selections will be made later in the week.
“We achieved what we needed to achieve through the trials and the players we’ve selected for round one all deserve their places in the team,” said Hickey.
“There were probably only a handful of players who we knew would be in the starting XV a few weeks ago, and since then everyone else has had to fight for their place in the squad.
“There was a lot of time spent on a number of positions, and while we think we’ve picked our our strongest 22, there’s players knocking on the door who also want a crack, and that’s a good position to be in.
“Ben Mowen and Scotty Fava have been consistent throughout the trials to earn their places in the starting XV. That’s meant we can bring back Cliffy [Palu] from the bench after his shoulder surgery, so the depth in the back row has worked well for us.”
Hickey added that the whole squad is looking forward to getting to Wellington to start the campaign after what has been a long build-up.
“The Spring Tourists only came back in January, but we’ve been looking forward to this match for months,” said Hickey.
“The Hurricanes are going to be extremely tough. They’ve got a really strong playing roster, they finished fourth last year and Wellington made the NPC Final in 2008.
“The ‘Cake Tin’ is an amazing ground to play at first up, so now it’s down to putting the finishing touches on the preparation and looking forward to the challenges the Hurricanes will throw at us.”
The Waratahs fly to Wellington on Friday morning ahead of Saturday’s clash.
2009 Super 14 – Round 1
HURRICANES V HSBC WARATAHS
Saturday 14 February 2009 (Kick-off 8:35am SA Time)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta)
3. Al Baxter (Northern Suburbs)
4. Dean Mumm (Sydney University)
5. Will Caldwell (Sydney University)
6. Ben Mowen* (Randwick)
7. Phil Waugh [c] (Sydney University)
8. Scott Fava* (Eastwood)
9. Luke Burgess (Eastern Suburbs)
10. Kurtley Beale (Northern Suburbs)
11. Lote Tuqiri (West Harbour)
12. Timana Tahu (West Harbour)
13. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
14. Lachie Turner (Eastwood)
15. Sam Norton-Knight (Northern Suburbs)
16. Adam Freier (Randwick) / Damien Fitzpatrick^#* (Eastwood)
17. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University) / Dan Palmer (Southern Districts)
18. Chris Thomson*#^ (Warringah)
19. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
20. Brett Sheehan (Warringah)
21. Tom Carter (Sydney University)
22. Daniel Halangahu (Sydney University)
^ Waratahs Debut
# Super 14 Debut
* Super 14 Debut for Waratahs