Tahs' licence to thrill
The NSW Waratahs plan on going down swinging if their Super Rugby AU season comes to an end on Saturday.
The Waratahs take on the Melbourne Rebels at Leichhardt Oval knowing nothing less than victory will be enough to extend their 2020 campaign.
But the Tahs won’t be retreating into their shells, with captain-in-waiting Jake Gordon saying the game plan will be the same as it’s been all season.
“We’ll be playing expansive rugby no matter the conditions,” Gordon said on Friday.
Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper on Thursday anointed Gordon as the Waratahs’ 2021 captain after revealing he was taking a six-month sabbatical next season to play in Japan.
But that’s the last thing on Gordon’s mind, with the halfback general more intent on helping the Waratahs qualify for the three-team finals series.
“There’s been a real feeling in the group this week, especially around training,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been heated training but there’s been a lot of energy.
“There’s no elephant in the room – it’s a do-or-die game for us with the bye following and this year we haven’t gone too well against the Rebels.
“They’ve really dominated us upfront and Matt Toomua’s been kicking really well for them, same with Andrew Deegan.
“So the plan for us on the weekend is obviously to get some go-forward ball and hopefully play some expansive rugby.”
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The Waratahs are hoping some of that go-forward comes from rookie centre Tepai Moeroa – who was once likened to Sonny Bill Williams.
Australian schoolboys star, national sevens representative, Australian junior shot put champion and Parramatta NRL 100-gamer Moeroa has been handed his debut for NSW’s biggest match of the season.
“He’s a big abrasive 12. Played at Newington College and then went to league,” Gordon said.
“A very good ball carrier, looks for offloads, a great defender. He’s a big lad with pretty explosive power and he moves quite well too.
“So for people who haven’t seen him before, I can imagine there’ll be some big collisions in the midfield.
“He’ll be looking to really get us that go-forward.”
With a last-round opportunity against the winless Western Force next week, the Rebels are in the box seat to finish above the Waratahs.
But the Waratahs’ fate remains in their own hands and a bonus-point win on Saturday night would clinch a finals spot.