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Fri 13 Mar 2020 | 03:18

Timely boost for Waratahs

Timely boost for Waratahs
Fri 13 Mar 2020 | 03:18
Timely boost for Waratahs
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Waratahs boss Rob Penney has welcomed back three key players to his side ahead of a must-win Australian derby clash against the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

Captain Rob Simmons headlined the trio of returnees, with the second row fighting off an ankle issue to lead his side as they search for just their second win of the campaign.

Joining him in returning to the starting lineup are teenage wing Mark Nawaqanitawase and Wallabies prop Tom Robertson, both of whom have overcome back injuries to make the starting XV.

The only other change to the run-on side comes at hooker, with Damian Fitzpatrick dislodging incumbent rake Robbie Abel to the bench.

Penney will be hopeful that these changes will improve a disappointing Waratahs outfit, whose worst performance of the year thus far came when they hosted the Chiefs in Wollongong last week.

A 14-13 half-time lead turned into a 51-14 thrashing at the hands of Warren Gatland’s men, with 38 unanswered points for the visitors consigning the Waratahs to an embarrassing defeat.

“You’ve got two ways of handling it,” Penney said in the wake of his team announcement for this weekend.

“I guess we’re not in a great situation performance-wise so you can either throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore the good things that aren’t being seen but we know are happening and replace a lot of the boys or you can show faith in the group that you’ve been working with intimately and that’s what we’ve decided to do, so persevere.”

With that in mind, Penney remains wary that results need to start changing sooner rather than later if they want to keep their play-off aspirations alive.

“The boys feel it more than anybody. Us as staff members we get disappointed but the group really cares about their performance and how they’re perceived and the perception isn’t great at the moment.

“We understand why and we’re the only ones that can fix it.

“The players are at the front edge, leading that change.”

*Article continues below…

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Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Pat Tafa, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 James Ramm

Date: Sunday, March 15
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 16.05 (06.00 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)

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PV: 427


Timely Boost For Waratahs | Rugby365