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Wallabies quartet cleared of injury ahead of Waratahs' quarter-final

By AAP
(Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs’ hopes of an Auckland upset have received a boost with a Wallabies quartet cleared of injury ahead of their Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final against the Blues.

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Jed Holloway, Langi Gleeson, Izzy Perese and Lalakai Foketi all passed fitness tests to take their place in the starting side for their do-or-die encounter on Friday night at Eden Park.

Wallabies hooker Dave Porecki will also return after missing their shock final-round home loss to Moana Pasifika, with coach Darren Coleman making six changes to the starting team.

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Porecki is part of a new-look front row alongside Archer Holz and Tetera Faulkner, with Holloway taking the place of Hugh Sinclair in the second row.

Gleeson has overcome a back injury to start at No.8 ahead of Taleni Seu.

Newly re-signed Foketi will return to inside centre in his first appearance since round 11, partnering Joey Walton.

The back three remains from Moana with Perese and Dylan Pietsch on the wings and Mark Nawaqanitwase at 15.

Harrison Goddard will wear the No.9 jumper for the second time with Waratahs captain Jake Gordon unavailable due to concussion protocols.

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Striving to become the first Australian side to win a finals match in New Zealand in 27 years of Super Rugby, Coleman said the team planned to play like they had nothing to lose.

The Waratahs have lost their past eight games against the Blues, including a record 55-21 defeat last month, and have won only once at Eden Park in 14 Super Rugby meetings since 1996.

“We understand the enormity of the opposition on their home patch, but it’s something we look forward to ripping into,” Coleman said.

“We’ve had a good short week of prep and will play like a team with nothing to lose.”

NSW: Tetera Faulkner, David Porecki, Archer Holz, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper (capt), Langi Gleeson, Harrison Goddard, Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase. Reserves: Mahe Vailanu, Tom Lambert, Nephi Leatigaga, Taleni Seu, Charlie Gamble, Teddy Wilson, Tane Edmed, Harry Wilson.

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Phillip 407 days ago

I was at the Moana game, and while Mark Nawaqanitwase is a fantastic player and athlete in his own right, he seemed to struggle at 15. I hope I'm wrong, and he has an absolute bolter against the blues, I do have my concerns on if he is up to the assignment.

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Jon 2 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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