The emerging generation of NSW Waratahs has new coach Rob Penney excited about the team’s depth and looking forward to having some selection headaches.


Some of his youngsters who played in the Junior Wallabies squad that made the final of last year’s World U20 Championships handled the step to senior level with aplomb, in Friday’s 40-21 trial win against the Highlanders in Sydney.

Fullback Mark Nawaqanitawase dazzled with some instinctive flashes of skill, five-eighth Will Harrison displayed fine playmaking aptitude and back rower Carlo Tizzano was on hand to score a couple of tries.

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Harrison and Mack Mason, who each played a half on Friday, will give Penney other options at five-eighth apart from the vastly more experienced Kurtley Beale, who can also play inside centre and fullback.

“I’m rapt with the calibre of talent that’s there,” Penney said.


“It’s just reinforced to me how far this group could go given a bit more experience and a bit more time.

“There’s good depth across the board there. There’s a couple of positions that we were concerned about.

“They are certainly not alleviated, but certainly there is a little more relaxing around the tighthead prop area, the 10 area, given the performances that we saw today.”


Penney said 19-year-old Nawaqanitawase was definitely in selection contention for the opening round Super Rugby clash away to defending three-time champions, the Crusaders.

He suggested some of his other Junior Wallabies representatives weren’t too far behind.

“That confidence and self-belief is a wonderful attribute to have,” Penney said.

“They have come through some teams at age-group level that have had some success, so they’ve earned the right to be confident.

“But the beautiful thing about all those guys is there’s not an arrogant one amongst them.

‘”Each case will be different, but they are putting their hands up without doubt.”

Asked if had a greater number of selection headaches going into the season than he did before Friday’s game Penney said: “Yes, but they are good ones, crikey.

“You don’t lose sleep at night over those sorts of ones compared with the other side of the coin.”

He reported no injuries from the game in which only three of his Wallabies started.

All their 2019 World Cup representatives are expected to play in next Friday’s final trial against Queensland Reds.

“They have all come back in pretty good shape, the last three weeks they’ve been head down arse up getting themselves into physical condition,” Penney said.


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