Waratahs wary of falling into Sunwolves trap
Wary of falling into the Sunwolves trap once again, the Waratahs have made it clear they will stick to a structured style with a team that will still feature most of their Wallabies stars in a potential banana skin game in Newcastle on Friday.
High on confidence and with a spring in their step after ending the Crusaders remarkable 19-game winning streak, NSW are refusing to let complacency hamper their chances of inflicting further misery on the Sunwolves, who last week were told they would be axed from Super Rugby in 2021.
On current form, the Waratahs should notch up a big win given they are coming off their most eye-opening victory in years and the Sunwolves have suffered three defeats on the trot.
Head-to-head the teams appear much closer. A one-point win in Tokyo last month gave the Waratahs a mighty scare and reminded them the dangers of trying to – in the words of Michael Hooper – play a "Harlem Globetrotter" brand of hot-potato, side-to-side rugby.
Meanwhile, Daryl Gibson is being pulled in two directions with his team selection. The coach knows he has to rest a string of Wallabies representatives, as per an agreement with Michael Cheika, at some point during the season. At the same time, there is an urge to pick his best possible team.
It seems a shrewd compromise will be made, without having to give up too much firepower for the round seven clash.
Bernard Foley is likely to be rested from the match, with Mack Mason to take the reins at five-eighth in what will be his second start for the Waratahs since debuting against the Crusaders in 2017.
However, the likes of Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau are tipped to remain in the starting XV, at No.12 and fullback, respectively.
Adam Ashley-Cooper had lighter duties at training on Monday and Tuesday in a hint Gibson might not name him on Wednesday.
If so, Karmichael Hunt, whose cameo off the bench once again provided his team with a much-needed energy boost late in the Crusaders game, would play at outside-centre.
Cam Clark, who is tipped to get another start on the wing after scoring a try against the Crusaders, said the Sunwolves would be a tough proposition.
"We've seen huge improvements from them and on their day they can beat anyone in the comp," Clark said. "They play [with] a lot of flair, some great attacking weapons there, so they're sort of an unpredictable team. They're quite hard to prepare for.
"[Daryl] hasn't named the squad yet … but whoever he picks we have full confidence they can do the job this week."
Jack Dempsey is also chance of being rested for the match, with Michael Wells more than capable of filling his void at No.8.
Captain Michael Hooper is still expected to take his place in the side, while Jed Holloway is in doubt for the match at McDonald Jones StadiuRead More – Source