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Waratahs to push past 'unfortunate' Angus Bell blow in vital Crusaders game

By AAP
Angus Bell of the Waratahs breaks a tackle during the round two Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park, on March 02, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs are confident they can bounce back from the loss of star prop Angus Bell and keep their Super Rugby Pacific season alive, starting with victory against the Crusaders.

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Bell will miss the remainder of the campaign after re-injuring the big-toe ligament that has plagued him in recent times, a huge blow to the Waratahs’ chances of a surge back into top-eight contention after a 1-6 start to their campaign.

Coach Darren Coleman has picked Hayden Thompson-Stringer at loosehead prop to face the Crusaders at Allianz Stadium on Friday.

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Referee Angus Gardner on his unique shadow preparation – Whistleblowers | RPTV

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He will play alongside hooker Julian Heaven and tighthead Harry Johnson-Holmes in the front row, with Lewis Ponini and Tom Ross to come off the bench.

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Thompson-Stringer said the squad couldn’t let the loss of 28-cap Wallaby Bell rattle their confidence.

“It’s an unfortunate event that happens in rugby … we’ve had a few boys that have recently taken these long-term injuries,” he said.

“It’s just about trying to show up for the team … put my best foot forward and show what I can do on the pitch.

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“The season hasn’t gone the way we want it to, so (playing the Crusaders) is a good opportunity for us to bounce back and build into the next couple of games.”

The result might not have gone the Waratahs’ way in last weekend’s 40-16 loss to the red-hot ACT Brumbies, but the NSW side might feel luck is ready to turn their way.

The Brumbies thumping followed four straight defeats by six points or fewer, and they were trailing 9-6 seconds from halftime before the Brumbies broke away.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
30
36
First try wins
40%
Home team wins
60%

Thompson-Stringer said the side took little comfort from being competitive, and must start getting results or risk their season collapsing.

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“We’re getting to the stage in the season where we need to win,” he said.

“We’ve been unfortunate with some results … (but) we need to worry about ourselves, make sure we put everything in place to really perform against this team at the weekend.

“They’re not a bad team. We know what they offer, we’ve done enough analysis on them to know what they’re going to bring.”

The reigning champions, Crusaders (1-5) lost their first five outings of the season before beating the high-flying Chiefs last time out.

New Zealand international Ethan Blackadder will resume at flanker in the only change to their starting XV.

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