Inexperienced Tahs won't die wondering
June 14, 2013
Bernard Foley is back from the national Sevens squad © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs openside flanker Pat McCutcheon will return from a knee injury to face the British & Irish Lions alongside Wallabies Dave Dennis and Rob Horne at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
The experience of internationals Dennis, Horne, Drew Mitchell - who will start at fullback - and prop Paddy Ryan, who made his Test debut last year, will be crucial for the hosts as Waratahs coach Michael Cheika otherwise selected a raw team to face in the Lions in the tourists' penultimate tune-up game before the three-Test series starts in Brisbane on Saturday week.
Cheika promised his young charges would serve it up to the Lions, much as Queensland Reds did in their 22-12 loss to the tourists last Saturday. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we want it to be something worth remembering," Cheika said. "We're going to go for it. We can't be looking for a glorious defeat. As a player, you want to say that you played in an international-level fixture and you made something of it."
Cheika has added three Shute Shield players to the squad as cover, with 21-year-old Sydney University prop Sam Talakai a chance to make his NSW debut, and Carter said the Waratahs' Super Rugby victory over Western Force with 17 players out proved they had greater depth than in previous years. "The thing is we saw Will Skelton emerge from last Sunday's game as a genuine future superstar of the game," Carter said. "I think it comes with these opportunities. People are able to show their wares at this next level. Hopefully Saturday night there's a few more stars born and emerge. I think that's what these games are about. It's about giving people the opportunity to play against the best in the world and I think funnily enough it's the young ones that do the best, because they don't think too much about it."
Carter, who has accumulated 83 NSW caps and captained the team against the Force, stressed the importance of not being intimidated by the Lions' aura. "Probably the most important thing is not going into your shell out there and backing yourselves to play and take it to them," he said. Mitchell said he hadn't detected any sense of awe among the Waratahs at the prospect of facing the Lions. "You would think for some of these guys that haven't had too much of an opportunity, that looking at it is a pretty big task," Mitchell said. "To be honest, I haven't got that sense from the boys. We're building really nicely."
Waratahs: Drew Mitchell; Cam Crawford, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Peter Betham; Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin; Dave Dennis (captain), Pat McCutcheon, Jed Holloway; Ollie Atkins, Will Skelton; Paddy Ryan, John Ulugia, Jeremy Tilse. Replacements: Luke Holmes, Richard Aho, Sam Talakai, Lopeti Timani, AJ Gilbert, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston.
The Lions complain they want tougher warm-up games
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September