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'He is pretty much impossible to stop': Waratahs target Moana Pasifika star

By AAP
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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The NSW Waratahs are targeting championship-winning former teammate Sekope Kepu as the danger man in Saturday’s first-time Super Rugby Pacific meeting with Moana Pasifika.

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Moana are languishing in last place with just one win from nine games and the Waratahs know stopping Wallabies prop great Kepu at the set piece will go a long way towards keeping the competition newcomers at bay.

But that will be easier said than done, with returning hooker Dave Porecki suspecting Kepu – who played 141 games for the Waratahs and 110 for Australia – will be out to “bully” the NSW scrum at Mt Smart Stadium.

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“If he gets dominance early, he is pretty much impossible to stop,” Porecki said.

“He’s a very strong tight-head scrummager so if you nullify him early, you can discourage him from being so dominant throughout the game.”

Porecki said he and loosehead Angus Bell must keep Kepu in check.

“He’s too experienced for someone like me to rattle him,” Porecki said.

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“I know what makes him tick. I think that’s a little bit of an advantage for us.”

Kepu, a cornerstone of the Waratahs’ march to the 2014 Super Rugby title, isn’t the only former Wallaby lining up for Moana Pasifika, who were hampererd by COVID-19 match postponements earlier in their campaign.

Playmaker Christian Lealiifano enters the match just nine points away from reaching 1000 Super Rugby points.

Coach Aaron Mauger hailed Lealiifano among his side’s best in last week’s 26-22 loss to the Melbourne Rebels.

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“He had to wear a big shot at the end and stood up. He’s a man of steel,” Mauger said.

“We’ve put some plans in place to play the Waratahs and ultimately aim for an outcome.

“Obviously they had a good win over the Crusaders. Their confidence will be up but we’re confident going in every week and we know we’re not far away.”

Kepu agreed that Moana were close to claiming their first Australian scalp and hoped it would come in Auckland.

“We’re taking big steps and in the right direction,” he said.

“This is the first season for a lot of our boys and the first professional environment for a lot of them and to see where we started and where we are now and all the storm weeks that we had to go through.

“But it’s our first proper home game with crowds and our families at home. So we’re really looking forward to that.”

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