The home side are back from their South African tour where they won a tough game in Cape Town against the Stormers, and narrowly lost against the Sharks in Durban.
Head Coach Colin Cooper said that the team are doing a lot of work and planning on how to nullify the Waratahs attack. The Waratahs beat the Highlanders 41-12 last weekend, recording the first Australian win over a New Zealand team in almost two years.
“The team have travelled back from South Africa well, and brought five points back, which we are pretty happy about. Now it’s about getting ready for a tough Waratahs match. They have really shown against New Zealand opposition what their attack can do, so we are doing a lot of work defensively to stop the Waratahs and their attack play,” Cooper said.
“Recovery is key. We felt there were some inaccuracies in our attack flow in our previous game and we will look to execute better this weekend.”
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There are seven changes to the starting fifteen that took the field against the Sharks.
In the forwards, All Blacks Nathan Harris and Brodie Retallick return to the run on side, while young flanker Mitchell Karpik gets a start at openside. Veteran Liam Messam will wear the number eight jersey.
Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown return to the backline after time at the All Blacks camp, and Toni Pulu starts on the right wing. Charlie Ngatai pairs with Leinert-Brown in the midfield for the first time this season.
Tahuriorangi was named in the All Blacks’ 33-man squad for their three-test series, while Tu’inukuafe, initially uncontracted at Super Rugby level, has been called in as cover for injured Crusaders prop Tim Perry. Cooper commented on their determination to take all opportunities offered this season.
“Karl and Te Toiroa are two guys that have put their hands up and have got opportunities through injuries and their form, and they’re now All Blacks. They’ve done really well.”
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2. Nathan Harris, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Michael Allardice, 6. Luke Jacobson, 7. Mitchell Karpik, 8. Liam Messam, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Damian McKenzie, 11. Sean Wainui, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 13. Charlie Ngatai (C), 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Solomon Alaimalo.
Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Jesse Parete, 20. Matt Matich, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Marty McKenzie, 23. Shaun Stevenson.
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