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By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit
Berrick Barnes will lead the HSBC Waratahs out for their 2012 opener as they take on Samoa in the first of two trial matches against Pacific Island opposition.
In a bid to ensure the whole squad benefit from match action ahead of their big FxPro Super Rugby opener against current champions the Queensland Reds later this month, in his first match at the helm Head Coach Michael Foley has selected two full XVs for the encounter, with each side contesting two, 30 minute quarters.
With the HSBC Waratahs facing current champions and arch rivals the Queensland Reds in the opening round of this year’s FxPro Super Rugby competition (Saturday February 25, ANZ Stadium), the Tamworth encounter is an important part of the team’s final preparations and Foley is keen to maximise game time across the squad.
“We’ve chosen this format to try and give most players 60 minutes of rugby to best complement our pre-season training,” he said. “Our mandate is to produce 80 minute players and giving most of the guys 60 minutes of trial match rugby is an important progression towards that goal.”
Wallaby stand out Barnes will take charge of the first half, leading a team that five further internationals, plus hotly-tipped NSW debutant Sarel Pretorius and country trio Tamworth tight-head prop Paddy Ryan, vice captain Pat McCutcheon, who hails from Narromine and lock Kane Douglas of Yamba.
After the half time whistle, Barnes will pass the captain’s armband and No. 10 jersey to experienced Sydney University playmaker, Daniel Halangahu, who will lead a youthful and exciting looking combination including former Australian Sevens player Bernard Foley and highly rated back rower Lopeti Timani, younger brother of crowd favourite Sitaleki.
“Berrick is part of our leadership group and Daniel (Halangahu) is one of our senior professionals. Both are key decision makers for us and suit what we are trying to achieve.”
The match will be NSW fans’ first opportunity to see new recruit Sarel Pretorius in action for his new side. The highly rated scrum half, well known for his tryscoring ability, first caught the HSBC Waratahs’ attention at the beginning of last year when assistant coach Scott Bowen spotted his potential in the Cheetahs’ 23-3 Super Rugby victory over the home side.
The 26-year-old has since established himself as one of Super Rugby's leading scrumhalves, topping the competition's tryscorers list and being named Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year for 2011 by the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Another player sure to be a crowd favourite is country boy Pat McCutcheon. The Narromine-born flanker will start at No. 8 and lead the pack, with Chris Alcock assuming the No. 7 jersey.
“Pat has played at No. 8 for Sydney University and with Wycliff Palu out for this game, this is an opportunity for us to look at two or three different players (at No. 8).”
Before the take to the pitch, Foley and the squad will be making the most of the country visit, undertaking a full program of Community Connection activities in and around the Tamworth region.
“The team at Tamworth Regional Council have put a lot of work into the arrangements for us up here and we are looking forward to giving something back. To have the opportunity to get out and play in the regional areas of our state is part of what we’re about, from a rugby family point of view.
“The trip is also a chance for a break from our daily training environment, to take some time out as a group and get together to finalise our Super Rugby preparations.”
Newcomer Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs) will have to wait until next week when the side takes on Tonga at the SFS to make his expected NSW debut after being rested on this occasion, as will wings Drew Mitchell (Balmain, ankle) and Atieli Pakalani (Randwick, shoulder), Wycliff Palu (Manly, hamstring) and Benn Robinson (Eastwood, knee), who are all expected back from injury for the opening FxPro Super Rugby match against the Reds. Captain Rocky Elsom (Randwick, hamstring), is expected back within a month, Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts) will be unavailable due to Japanese club commitments until round two, whilst Dan Vickerman (Sydney University, shoulder) is forecast to return to action in April.
2012 Pre-season trial match
HSBC WARATAHS v Samoa
Woodleys Volvo Challenge Match, Scully Park, Tamworth
Friday February 10, 2012
Kick off 7.30pm
HSBC Waratahs XV to contest first two quarters
1. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Dean Mumm (Sydney University)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University)
7. Chris Alcock (Eastwood)
8. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University), vice captain
9. Sarel Pretorius (N/A)
10. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University), captain
11. Tom Kingston (Sydney University)
12. Tom Carter (Sydney University)
13. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
14. Lachie Turner (Eastwood)
15. Brackin Karauria-Henry (Southern Districts)
HSBC Waratahs XV to contest last two quarters
1. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University)
2. Damien Fitzpatrick (Eastwood)
3. John Ulugia (Southern Districts)
4. Richard Stanford (Eastern Suburbs)*
5. Greg Peterson (Manly)
6. Tevita Metuisela (Manly)
7. Seilala Lam (Randwick)*
8. Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts)
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), vice captain
10. Daniel Halangahu (Sydney University), captain
11. Peter Betham (Sydney University)*
12. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
13. Michael Hodge (Sydney University)*
14. Nathan Trist (Sydney University)
15. Toby Browne (Randwick)*
16. Lotu Taukeiaho (Randwick)
17. Liam Winton (Sydney University)*
18. Jono Jenkins (Sydney University)*
19. Grayson Hart (Southern Districts)
20. Jesse Leota (Parramatta)*
21. Tom Hill (Gordon)*
* Invited player
Michael Foley – Head Coach
Alan Gaffney – Senior Assistant Coach
Scott Bowen – Assistant Coach
Greg Mumm – Coaching Coordinator
Tickets for the match at the 4,000 seater Scully Park are almost sold out with less than 100 remaining. Prices start from just $30 for adults, $20 for concessions and $80 for families (two adults and two children) and can be purchased in person from West Tamworth League Club or Wests Diggers in Tamworth or online at www.wtlc.com.au, subject to availability.
An HSBC Waratahs membership is your ticket to a number of exciting benefits including free entry to regional and local trial matches in February. Show your support and sign up now and you would win a Volvo C70 Convertible, valued at over $77,000.
Membership packages start from just $38 for a 2 Game Associate adult package. To receive all the benefits of being an HSBC Waratahs member and the chance to win these fantastic prizes, sign up online at www.waratahs.com.au/win by March 21, 2012 or call membership services on 1300 733 899.