Check stars Michael Hooper and Ned Hanigan are set to line up towards the Highlanders on Sunday because the Waratahs look to stability participant fatigue with successful momentum forward of the Super Rugby Pacific finals.
With two rounds earlier than the playoffs, the Waratahs face the lengthy trek to Dunedin to tackle the resurgent Highlanders, with stopovers in Christchurch and Auckland a part of the gruelling journey.
Assistant coach Chris Whitaker mentioned they might look to relaxation a few of their forwards, who’ve had an enormous workload.
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He mentioned having two veteran forwards obtainable, with Wallabies skipper Hooper coming back from a head knock and Hanigan from a season in Japan, had eased their choice dilemma.
“We still want to go into the quarter-finals with momentum,” Whitaker mentioned on Tuesday.
“The beauty about the team this year is that we’ve got legitimate guys who are competing for spots.
“For instance this week, you allow out Jed Holloway, you usher in Ned Hanigan, and you allow out Charlie Gamble and you usher in Michael Hooper.
“You’re not actually altering the team that much; we’re still going over with the mentality of winning this match but we’re were also trying to freshen up after what has been a long year for us.
“We’re making an attempt to battle two battles on one entrance.”
A certain change for the Waratahs is at outside centre, with in-form Izaia Perese suffering a knee injury in last round’s four-point loss to the Hurricanes.
Whitaker said they were hopeful the Wallabies back could return for their quarter-final in two weeks time.
Fullback Alex Newsome is one possibility to shift to 13 but Triston Reilly or Welsh veteran Jamie Roberts are more likely given how well Newsome is playing at the back.
Whitaker said there was a lot to like about their performance against the Hurricanes, where they dominated early but were over-run.
He said the Highlanders, who had climbed into eighth spot on the back of a 61-10 thrashing of Western Force, were a danger team.
“They performed good footy at first of the yr however misplaced a few video games on the bell,” mentioned the previous NSW halfback.
“They’re undoubtedly harmful and clearly with (halfback) Aaron Smith steering them across the park.
“An Australian team hasn’t won at Forsyth Barr Stadium since 2014 so we know it’s going to be a big battle, that’s for sure.”
In the meantime, veteran prop Paddy Ryan is cleared for choice after he acquired a warning from the SANZAAR judiciary following his pink card for a harmful sort out.