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By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit
Damien Fitzpatrick will now replace Tatafu Polota-Nau in the starting team to play Tonga tomorrow evening at the Sydney Football Stadium. Head Coach Michael Foley has decided to rest the Wallaby hooker, who pulled up from last Friday’s trial match against Samoa with some soreness in his lower leg.
Polota-Nau is expected to be in contention for next week’s big FxPro Super Rugby opener against the Reds at ANZ Stadium. But the news is not so good for injured team mate Lachie Turner, who yesterday underwent surgery to successfully repair a complete avulsion to his right hamstring. Although surgery went well, the HSBC Waratahs and Wallabies winger is expected to be out of action for at least six months.
The late change means 22-year-old Eastwood hooker Fitzpatrick will join experienced international duo Sekope Kepu and Benn Robinson up front, as the team prepares to fine tune their FxPro Super Rugby preparations against Pacific Island opposition.
His place in the second XV line up will be taken by John Ulugia, who steps up from the replacements bench, with Eastwood hooker Hugh Roach joining the substitutes.
The match also marks a return to action for Wallaby heavyweights Wycliff Palu and Benn Robinson, who return to full fitness for the HSBC Waratahs’ clash against Tonga this Friday evening at the Sydney Football Stadium in final preparation for the start of the FxPro Super Rugby season the following week.
Knee surgery ruled Robinson out of contention for last October’s Rugby World Cup, while hamstring concerns left Palu unable to see out the tournament but both are now back to full fitness and raring to go.
The match also marks the HSBC Waratahs debut for Adam Ashley-Cooper, who returns to NSW to having previously represented the state as a junior.
And with Sydney University playing Samoa in the curtain raiser (5.30pm) before the main game at 7.40pm, fans will be able to enjoy two big games of rugby for the price of one, with family tickets costing just $20, adult tickets $10 and HSBC Waratahs members admitted free.
“The inclusion of Benn, Cliff and Adam is another step forward in our preparations for round one next weekend, and gives us the opportunity to progress combinations with a view to our first FxPro Super Rugby game against Queensland,” said Head Coach Michael Foley.
To accommodate the returning internationals, Foley has also made a number of positional changes that will see Sekope Kepu switch to tight-head, Brackin Karauria-Henry move from full back to left wing and Pat McCutcheon revert to his preferred open-side flanker position.
The match will also be another opportunity for 20-year-old flier Tom Kingston, who this week gets a run on the right wing in place of the injured Turner.
With Foley and the coaches keen to maximize game time ahead of next Saturday’s big round one clash with FxPro Super Rugby champions the Queensland Reds at ANZ Stadium (7.40pm), the match will follow a similar format to last week.
The sides will once again be led by Berrick Barnes and Daniel Halangahu, after both earned the praise of coach Foley for their composure in difficult conditions against Samoa last Friday.
‘The Samoa game was a good test of our ability to control the game under difficult circumstances, notable an unpredictable opposition and very challenging weather conditions.
“I thought our two forward packs gave us good platform and our nines and 10s in particular made excellent decisions. One thing that stood out for me was our discipline, we retained our composure in difficult conditions, and on the back of that we were able to control the game by sticking to what we said we wanted to do. That will give us plenty to build on against Tonga,” he finished.
2012 Pre-season trial match 2
HSBC WARATAHS v Tonga, presented by Air Pacific
Friday February 17, 2012
Kick off 7.40pm
HSBC Waratahs XV to contest first two quarters
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Damien Fitzpatrick (Eastwood)
3. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
4. Dean Mumm (Sydney University)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University)
7. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University), vice captain
8. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
9. Sarel Pretorius (N/A)
10. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University), captain
11. Brackin Karauria-Henry (Southern Districts)
12. Tom Carter (Sydney University)
13. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
14. Tom Kingston (Sydney University)
15. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
HSBC Waratahs XV to contest last two quarters
1. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University)
2. John Ulugia (Southern Districts)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Richard Stanford (Eastern Suburbs)*
5. Greg Peterson (Manly)
6. Tevita Metuisela (Manly)
7. Chris Alcock (Eastwood)
8. Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts)
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), vice captain
10. Daniel Halangahu (Sydney University), captain
11. Peter Betham (Sydney University)*
12. Toby Browne (Randwick)*
13. Michael Hodge (Sydney University)*
14. Nathan Trist (Sydney University)
15. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
16. Hugh Roach (Eastwood)*
17. Lotu Taukeiaho (Randwick)
18. Liam Winton (Sydney University)*
19. Seilala Lam (Randwick)*
20. Grayson Hart (Southern Districts)
21. Jesse Leota (Parramatta)*
22. Tom Hill (Gordon)*
* Invited player
Michael Foley – Head Coach
Alan Gaffney – Senior Assistant Coach
Scott Bowen – Assistant Coach
Greg Mumm – Coaching Coordinator
As part of the HSBC Waratahs’ continuing association with the Starlight Children’s Foundation, the event will help raise funds to assist with the Foundation’s ongoing work with seriously ill children.
Members and supporters travelling to the match are encouraged to use public transport or arrive early. A number of venues in the local area will be available for public parking, including the Sydney Girls High School, which will open at 5pm.
Entry starts at just $10 for adults and $20 for families (two adults and two children), with HSBC Waratahs members admitted free. Tickets for this match and the FxPro Super Rugby blockbuster opening round clash between the HSBC Waratahs and Queensland Reds at ANZ Stadium (Saturday February 25, kick off 7.40pm) go on sale on January 31 from www.ticketec.com.au or by calling 132 849.
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.