Elsom and Tahu set to return for Tahs


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The Waratahs are set to be boosted by the return of Rock Elsom and even Timana Tahu who last night made giant steps to being critical cogs in the Waratahs’ charge towards the Super 14 finals.

Last night while the rest of the Waratahs were training at the Sydney Football Stadium, Elsom and Tahu headed to Centennial Park for fitness tests.

While there will be further tests, there seems little doubt that the pair will be part of the 26-man squad that heads to South Africa next week, and may even be involved in Saturday night’s match against the Sharks, albeit on the bench.

If that doesn’t happen they are expected to return for the Bulls and Stormers matches.

Both players were said to be running freely and their stamina was well above average.

The Waratahs are on something of a roll and if they were struggling the coaches could rush them back but as the Tahs are doing so well there seems little sense in rushing them back to action.

Dean Mumm and Rob Horne who are keeping the duo’s places warm have been doing well on the field so McKenzie can wait until he is convinced they are fully fit.

McKenzie stressed it was crucial to be cautious and did not want to rush them back in the game.

“One step at a time ‘ the tour to South Africa next week is very important,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.

“But at the moment we are probably talking about things happening a little quicker [with Elsom and Tahu] than I first thought.

“It’s good this is all happening quicker, but at the same time I don’t want to rush in there and have a repeat situation. I want to make sure everything is ticked and that they are really ready to go, because the next four weeks are going to be very tough.

“You have to understand that Timana has been out for five weeks and Rocky for three. So we have developed our game a fair bit since they last played, and just on the intellectual side, there’s a lot of catching up to do. That all takes a little bit of time.”

McKenzie’s approach also avoids the difficult situation of having to drop in-form players.

“I have been very happy with the guys who have filled in,” McKenzie said.

“Robert Horne has stepped up very well and has done a good job. He’s played against some good opponents and handled himself OK, as has Dean Mumm on the side of the scrum.”

McKenzie says that he was surprised that the Sharks were beaten by the Brumbies on Saturday night but knows that it would take a conclusive performance to beat South Africa’s most impressive province.

He also knows the Sharks will be cantankerous after ill-discipline cost them dearly at Canberra Stadium.

“The Sharks play the game differently to a lot of other teams,” McKenzie said.

“They kick a lot, and get a lot of their front-foot football from that, rather than necessarily running into people.

“They are also very physical, as shown against the Brumbies, where up front they gave them a bit of a touch-up. So you have to be able to stand up.”

The Waratahs are not expected to make many changes to the team that beat the Lions last weekend for this weekend’s match.



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