Wallaby forwards Al Baxter and Wycliff Palu have been ruled out of the Waratahs Saturday Round Six match against the Western Force in Perth due to injury.
Both players were given every opportunity to play, and while head coach Chris Hickey remains positive about their chances of making it back for the Blues game, the decision was made to give the Test players more time to recover.
“If it was a semi-final you’d seriously consider putting both players on the park, but at this stage of the season the risk is just too great,” said Hickey. “There’s a good chance they could worsen their injuries by playing and given we have good depth in the pack it’s the right decision to make.
“By staying in Sydney they can get on to their rehab and we’ll see where they’re at when we come back on Monday.”
Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu comes into the starting line-up for their first time this year, with Dan Palmer moving onto the bench. Ben Mowen will now start at No.8, with Locky McCaffrey celebrating his new Super 14 contract by being elevated to the match day 22 for the second time this year.
“Keps and Benny Mowen have a lot of experience starting in these important games and will have no problem slotting into the side,” said Hickey.
“Dan Palmer and Locky McCaffrey have been sticking up their hand for selection every week and they were both fairly impressive for the Junior Waratahs last weekend.
“It’s a great sign of the depth within the squad that if we lose players like Al and Cliffy we can replace them with quality players.”
Waratahs (revised): 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Tom Carter, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Phil Waugh (captain), 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Dan Palmer, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Locky McCaffrey, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Rob Horne.
Article courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet