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Wallabies might return from bench for NSW

Mulling how best to manage the workload of some Wallabies in their first game of the year, NSW might opt to start with some of their best players on the bench.

Wallabies might return from bench for NSW

Mulling how best to manage the workload of some Wallabies in their first game of the year, NSW might opt to start with some of their best players on the bench.

MICHAEL HOOPER of the Wallabies makes a break during an International Test match at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Australia.
MICHAEL HOOPER of the Wallabies makes a break during an International Test match at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Picture:Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The NSW Waratahs might have some of their best talent on the bench at Brookvale Oval, where the Super Rugby franchise will unleash a stack of returning Wallaby stars in Saturday's season opener against the Hurricanes.

The Waratahs, emboldened by a semi-final finish in 2018 and some key signings, hope to draw a a sold-out crowd to the suburban venue in Sydney.


The match shapes as the first chance for Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper, gun playmakers Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley plus other Wallabies to make on-field statements in a World Cup year.

Hooper, Beale and Foley were all rested from NSW's two trial games, as were national teammates Rob Simmons, Tolu Latu and Sekope Kepu.

It remains unclear how the Waratahs will manage their Wallabies' minutes this weekend but coach Daryl Gibson has suggested they have the depth and flexibility to start with some big names on the bench.

That's likely to include Beale, who Gibson has already admitted had played far too much in 2018.

The recruitment and pre-season form of Karmichael Hunt at No.12, including a brief pairing with veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper in last week's trial against the Brumbies, would lessen the impact of such a selection.

"That's been the luxury that we have and the whole purpose of recruiting someone like Karmichael - to give us the opportunity to rest and rotate" Gibson said.

"We're still finalising our team."

Gibson has no doubt Beale and other Wallabies are physically and mentally ready for the rigours of Super Rugby despite their lack of match fitness.

"We're certainly really pleased with where they're at - the shape they've come back in," he said.

"And the excitement they have about playing rugby again, which is probably the most-important thing as a coach.

"They're ready to play."

Nick Phipps is however still recovering from a calf injury, with Gibson suggesting the Wallabies' halfback is about two or three weeks away from full fitness.

Gibson dismissed concerns about Brookvale's surface, noting "we've done all our inspections. We're satisfied the pitch will be fine".

AAP


AAP




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