Wallaby Wycliff Palu will start his first match for 2009 after being selected at No.8 to take on the Chiefs at the Sydney Football Stadium this Friday.
In the only change to the starting side which defeated the Hurricanes 26-22 in Wellington last Saturday, Palu moves into the pack in place of Scott Fava who takes his place on the bench.
Super14.com reports that Palu remained eligible for selection after being found not guilty of a stomping charge at a SANZAR Judicial Hearing in New Zealand on Sunday.
The rampaging No.8 played no part in the pre-season following an arthroscopy on his shoulder in December.
“Cliffy is a world class player so having him back at full fitness is a great advantage for the team,” said Head Coach Chris Hickey. “He’s been battling his way back from shoulder surgery without any fuss and when he got his opportunity off the bench against the Hurricanes he showed enough to prove he’s ready to start again.”
Palu won the 2008 Matthew Burke Cup for the Waratahs Players’ Player of the Super 14, and was runner up behind George Smith for the John Eales Medal.
The only other change to the side from last week sees Dan Palmer move onto the bench in place of Jeremy Tilse as the backup prop.
“We’re expecting Friday night to be a real battle,” said Hickey. “The Chiefs were within one point of the Crusaders until after full-time last week and last year they beat the Waratahs in Hamilton.
“They have strike players all over the paddock, but in that respect we do as well, so it’s a matter of getting the preparation right and putting it into practice when we hit the field.”
New Waratahs signing Luke Doherty was not considered for selection, but will feature in the HSBC Junior Waratahs side to take on the Australian Barbarians in Friday night’s curtain raiser.
2009 Super 14 – Round 2
HSBC WARATAHS V CHIEFS
Friday 20 February 2009 (Kick-off 7:40pm AEDT) (10:40am SA Time)
Sydney Football Stadium
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. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
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)
17. Dan Palmer (Southern Districts)
18. Chris Thomson (Warringah)
19. Scott Fava (Eastwood)
20. Brett Sheehan (Warringah)
21. Daniel Halangahu (Sydney University)
22. Tom Carter (Sydney University)