One of NSW Rugby’s favourite sons will bring up a significant milestone on Friday when Phil Waugh leads out the HSBC Waratahs in his 100th Super Rugby match.
Having made his 100th appearance for NSW in last year’s semifinal victory over the Sharks, Waugh will become just the third Waratah to reach a century of Super Rugby caps when he takes on the Highlanders. The only other Waratahs to reach the milestone are Chris Whitaker (107) and David Lyons (100).
NSWRU Media unit reports that number 8 Wycliff Palu will also be celebrating his 50th NSW cap as the Waratahs strive for their third straight victory to start the year, and their ninth victory in a row at home.
While Head Coach Chris Hickey has maintained the 22-man squad which took on the Chiefs last Friday, there are two changes to the starting XV.
Hooker Adam Freier has been elevated to the starting line-up with fellow Test rake Tatafu Polota-Nau set to make an impact from the bench, while Tom Carter gets his first chance in the No.12 jersey in place of Timana Tahu.
“At this stage of the season it’s pretty important to manage your squad,” said Hickey. “We had a short turnaround from the Hurricanes to the Chiefs match, so you have to look at the workload on all the players.
“While you keep your focus on the next game, you do need to look forward at the coming schedule and make sure you manage the squad as a whole to put the team in the best position for the whole campaign.
“Adam and Tatafu each offer something slightly different at hooker, as do Tom and Timana in the centres.
Hickey added that while the Highlanders sit in eleventh on the Super 14 ladder after two rounds, he remained extremely cautious of his opponents for Friday’s match.
“They’re only on three competition points, but they could easily be up with us on nine points,” said Hickey. “They would have come away from the Brumbies match thinking they should have had a bonus point victory, and then last week they also had the match in their grasp against the Hurricanes.
“You definitely wouldn’t expect them to fall short of the 80 minutes this week. They’re going to be an extremely tough outfit; very physical, but with a lot of speed and a lot of danger which they have shown from their long range tries.
“I’m sure it’s going to be an entertaining spectacle, and with Waughy playing his 100th Super match and Cliffy reaching 50 state caps, hopefully we have a big crowd on hand to acknowledge those guys and get behind the team.”
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Adam Freier (Randwick)
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. Tom Carter (Sydney University)
13. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
14. Lachie Turner (Eastwood)
15. Sam Norton-Knight (Northern Suburbs)
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta)
17. Dan Palmer (Southern Districts)
18. Chris Thomson (Warringah)
19. Scott Fava (Eastwood)
20. Brett Sheehan (Warringah)
21. Daniel Halangahu (Sydney University)
22. Timana Tahu (West Harbour)
^ 100th Super Rugby Cap
* 50th NSW Cap