THE Waratahs title hopes have suffered a blow as half-back Luke Burgess broke his hand in training taking their injury list to 12 regular Waratahs squad members who won’t be playing at Eden Park.
Burgess has most likely played his last game for the Waratahs which means that coach Chris Hickey will have to decide between handing a Super Rugby debut to club players Bernard Foley and Elvis Taione in the Waratahs biggest game of the season.
Either Josh Holmes or Brendan McKibbin will replace Burgess who is on his way to Toulouse on a three year deal after the world cup.
Burgess’s injury means that with Tatafu Polota-Nau, Al Baxter and Daniel Halangahu the Waratahs have lost four players from last week alone.
The Waratahs already knew they would have to face the Blues without international stars Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Wycliff Palu, Sekope Kepu, Rob Horne, and regular team members Ben Mowen, Pat McCutcheon and Damien Fitzpatrick.
“I suppose the encouraging thing is when we’ve had to make those changes, the players who have come in have stepped up to the mark and done a really good job,” coach Chris Hickey told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I don’t think it will be any other case this weekend.”
Kurtley Beale will move from fullback to five-eighth and Australian Sevens captain Bernard Foley is thought to be Beale’s back up but Hickey wouldn’t confirm this.
“We’ve got options, Ben Batger has played 10, Josh Holmes has played 10 and 12 at club rugby, we’re going to take Bernard Foley with us, it’s something we’re going to look at once we get over there,” Hickey said.
John Ulugia is expected to start at Hooker and Elvis Taione who was plucked from the Manly Marlins side will be his back-up.
“We monitored club rugby pretty closely at the end of last year and the start of this year, and we knew we needed to go to club rugby, there were a couple of candidates we looked at, and we felt that Elvis ticked most of the boxes,” Hickey said.
The Blues have announced their intention to play an attacking game, with coach Pat Lam saying: “It’s win or lose now but nothing changes with preparation – it’s just the Waratahs and what we need to do.
“They come here on the back of some very good form, particularly last weekend.”-SuperXV.com