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Dave Dennis becomes a master chef for Waratahs
July 2, 2014

Injured New South Wales Waratahs captain Dave Dennis is certain the team has the ingredients required to win their first Super Rugby championship. Just to be doubly sure, however, Dennis turned chef on Tuesday to serve up a few more.

The Waratahs' Stephen Hoiles and Nick Phipps congratulate Dave Dennis, Chiefs v New South Wales Waratahs, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, May 31, 2014
Dave Dennis has been a key element of the Waratahs' success in 2014 © Getty Images
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Dennis is facing a third knee reconstruction that will rule him out of rugby for the remainder of 2014, but he put aside his personal to produce a gourmet breakfast for his table-topping team-mates as they continued preparations for their match against the Highlanders on Sunday.

"When I walked in the front gate this morning, there was this big menu board saying 'Denno's Cafe'," vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper said. "It had a menu: poached eggs on toast, avocado and a green juice option.

"It also had a quote underneath, Denno's Daily Quote. It said something like: 'To help yourself through tough times, the only way you can help yourself is by helping someone else.' It was a Mark Twain quote. It was just awesome. It had a big impact. It was a big injection. But that's Denno ... that's the character of Denno."

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika agreed that Dennis's gesture typified the skipper's selflessness.

"He was in early, Cheika said. "He didn't tell anyone but we all turn up this morning and there's a big spread on, and I think that's going to continue. "So he's looking for a job on MasterChef or something, but that's just testament to the person that he's able to do that for his team."

Ashley-Cooper said the impromptu breakfast would help the Waratahs move on without their captain, who will go under the knife next Tuesday.

Dave Dennis' season ended on Saturday © Getty Images
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"It's sad to see your leader, a guy that's sacrificed a lot for the team over the last couple of years, miss out on an opportunity to play finals," he said. "Certainly our goal over the last couple of years was to reach top two and we're a win away from that. So to have your leader and a really, really close friend to miss out on something pretty special is disappointing."

Ashley-Cooper, meanwhile, said he was looking forward to his head-to-head duel with Malakai Fekitoa, but he and Cheika aren't obsessing about devising a game plan to combat the centre or Ben Smith.

Scrum5: Finals log-jam good for Super Rugby
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"If we start thinking about Ben Smith and Fekitoa, [Patrick] Osborne, [Richard] Buckman, who are all good players out wide, we'll forget about the inside," he said. "And if the inside dominates us, we're gone regardless. So let's take on the inside threat first. They've got a very good forward pack.

"They've got threats all over the park and, like Cheik said, you need to deal with them up front initially so the blokes like Fekitoa, Smith, Osborne, guys like that, aren't getting that type of go-forward ball because that's when they're at their most dangerous. We'll have to be very strong throughout the midfield to stop their momentum and not give them the time and space that other teams have been giving them."

Cheika said: "To nullify their threats and to maintain ours, you're going to have to be working hard all the time because of the way we want to play the game. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that you don't want to kick them the ball too much. And if you're not going to be kicking the ball too much, you have to run with it, work hard. I like the idea of that challenge, taking a few more risks, getting into the game and taking it to the opposition."

© AAP
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