Hunt's role at the Waratahs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson made a bold move ahead of his side’s pre-season match Highlanders on Friday.
The coach has opted to hand Reds discard Karmichael Hunt the inside centre spot. Hunt will make his debut in the sky blue jumper.
While Newcastle hooker Andrew Tuala joins Northern Suburbs No.8 Hugh Sinclair as the two forwards to put on the NSW Waratahs jersey for the first time.
Mack Mason will start at flyhalf and Will Miller will captain the side from No.7.
The bench features some emerging talent, including 2018 Australian Schoolboys No.8 Will Harris and Australian Junior Wallabies flyhalf Will Harrison and utility back Ben Donaldson.
Also named on the bench are Warringah prop Rory O’Connor, Parramatta front row JP Sauni and strongman Chris Talakai while Eastern Suburbs lock BJ Edwards and Northern Suburbs No 8 Pat Tafa will make their debut if they come off the bench.
Northern Suburbs speedster Richard Woolf, who was the Shute Shield’s top try scorer in 2018, has also been named on the bench.
NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said Friday’s match is an opportunity to assess how the team is tracking at this stage of the season.
“We have been in pre-season training for a couple of months now and the first hit out of the season will be a yardstick of how we are progressing. At the same time, we are also giving opportunities to players who have been part of our programme and some emerging talent who deserve a chance,” Gibson said.
“These pre-season games are important for us to try out combinations and give our next generation of players exposure to international rugby. We have highlighted before the importance of creating depth in our squad and that is what we are working towards,” Gibson added.
Waratahs: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Curtis Rona, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Cameron Clark, 10 Mack Mason, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Hugh Sinclair, 7 Will Miller (Captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Ryan McCauley, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Shambeckler Vui, 2 Andrew Tuala, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes
Replacements: 16 JP Sauni, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 BJ Edwards, 21 Pat Tafa, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 Ben Donaldson, 24 Will Harrison, 25 Richard Woolf, 26 Will Harris, 27 Cody Walker.
Date: Friday, February 1
Venue: Central Otago, New Zealand
Kick-off: 18.30 (05.00 GMT, 16.30 Australia Time)