Waratahs make one change for Bulls
April 26, 2013
Tatafu Polota-Nau is due to play his 100th Super Rugby cap © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs have made just once enforced change to the team that defeated the Chiefs in Super Rugby round 10, with Tom Kingston replacing injured Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell for the match against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will make his 100th appearance for the Waratahs in a game coach Michael Cheika rates his team's biggest of the season so far as only Arno Botha of the 16 starting forwards is yet to win a Test cap. "We've got an all-Wallaby pack, but the only Wallaby pack is the next Wallaby pack that is picked," Cheika said. "This is an opportunity for our blokes, who are hoping to be in that pack, as well as for our team, to show they are up to it."
Cheika indicated that he would stick to a ball-in-hand style rather than try to match the Bulls' long-kicking game, saying "I don't think we'll win a kicking battle against them, so it's probably not our strategy".
The Bulls lead the South African conference, while the Waratahs start the round third in the Australian conference and 10th overall, two points off sixth spot. "We're under the radar, everyone will be expecting the Bulls to win," Cheika said. But the Bulls' leaders have been careful not to dismiss the Waratahs, with coach Frans Ludeke and captain Pierre Spies both talking up the Sydney-based team. "They are capable of beating anyone, as they showed against the Chiefs last week," Spies said. Ludeke described the Waratahs as "dangerous opponents", saying "at this level the margins are very small, so we cannot afford to play at any level other than our best".
The Bulls have won their past seven matches against the Waratahs, and they haven't lost to them in Pretoria since 2002. "We don't worry about it, but we definitely said that we want to be the first [Waratahs] team to win here in 11 years," Cheika said.
Waratahs: Israel Folau; Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Tom Kingston; Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (captain); Kane Douglas Sitaleki Timani; Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Replacements: John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Mitchell Chapman, Pat McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Peter Betham.
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game