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By NSW Waratahs Media unit
Allianz Stadium is set to come alive in what is tipped to be one of the most physical clashes of the season when arch rivals NSW Waratahs host the Brumbies this Saturday 18 March.
While this State verse State rivalry is deep seeded and goes back well beyond Super Rugby days, there is no doubt it has intensified in recent years with both sides being consistently ranked at the top of the Australian conference.
For the visitors, they come into the weekend on the back of a win and will be looking to make amends from the trial game in Mudgee that saw the Tahs storm home to 53-7 win over the Brumbies.
But they know they’ll be up against it when they face the Tahs on their home turf in front of a vocal and passionate New South Wales crowd.
The Tahs come into round four after two tough losses in South Africa against 2016 Super Rugby runners up the Lions and a formidable Sharks team that has also beaten the Brumbies the week before.
It could be a different NSW Waratahs outfit this weekend, with the potential return of Will Skelton, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan and Bernard Foley.
Holloway and Skelton available for selection could see more dominant ball carriers added to the side, with both having the ability to bend and break the defensive line. Hanigan known for his strong work ethic around the field will add another consistent ball carrier to the playing group.
Head Coach Daryl Gibson said he hoped all his squad would be off injury this week and available to play against the Brumbies.
“Having everyone available for selection is key. Bernard will be a day-to-day to see if he’s right, but Jed, Will and Ned will all be available,” said Gibson.
Returning to Sydney today, Gibson admitted it was a tough trip away but the side was looking forward to taking on the Brumbies at home.
“You’ve got to win your conference, which makes the Australian derbies more important.
“The Brumbies look fairly strong at set piece. That’s been their hallmark for the last four or five years, that is their strength,” he said.
All the action gets underway at Allianz Stadium on Saturday 18 March with tickets available at www.waratahs.com.au/tickets
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The New South Wales Rugby Union is mourning the loss of former Waratah and Wallaby backrower Denis O’Callaghan, who passed away earlier this week.