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Waratahs to test depth after 'devastated' Angus Bell ruled out

By AAP
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

NSW Waratahs captain Jake Gordon is backing his front row to cover the absence of injured star Angus Bell as they search for their first win of the season against Fijian Drua.

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Bell got the shattering news this week he’ll miss the entirety of the Super Rugby Pacific season with a foot injury, the same one that kept him out of much of last year’s Wallabies matches.

The Tahs named Tom Lambert in his loosehead prop role, teaming with Archer Holz and David Porecki to lead the pack against a Drua outfit fresh from winning their season opener against Moana Pasifika.

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Gordon said scrum struggles in their loss to the ACT Brumbies would be fixed with time, particularly as their new mix finds their feet.

“Belly is a massive part of our game, not just set piece but also around the field, we’re devastated we lost him,” he said.

“But Tommy Lambert, I thought he was really good when he came on.

“Our scrum was a little bit inconsistent … Archie will get better with each game, he played really well last year.

“I’m sure they have their learnings from last week but I’m sure they’ll be better this week.”

They’ve also recalled Wallabies standout Langi Gleeson at No.8, but Gordon didn’t view it as a demotion for the benched Charlie Gamble who joins an increasingly-formidable bench for NSW.

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Hooker Tolu Latu and prop Te Tera Faulkner are others on the pine who will pack a punch.

“We got a real impact on the weekend from Langi, he’s a really dangerous ball-carrier,” Gordon said.

“Charlie’s got such a presence at the breakdown, I thought he still played a really good game.

“What we’re seeing now is we have real depth throughout our squad … it’s making really hard decisions for coaching staff around selection.”

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The Drua pinched last weekend’s win 36-34, but their next test is taking another step forward and backing it up with another.

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They’re yet to win consecutive games in their short time in the competition, although Gordon said he’d seen big improvements that would challenge his troops on Saturday.

“We obviously didn’t treasure possession on the weekend, just turned over the ball way too easily,” he said.

“The Brumbies put a real emphasis on our breakdown, didn’t allow us to play fast and on top of them and we really struggled adapting throughout the game.

“There were glimpses of how we want to play footy, but not for long enough and what we see against the Drua this weekend, if we don’t hold possession, they can really score from anywhere on the park.”

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