Tahu and Norton-Knight set for Reds clash



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Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie is said to be contemplating bringing backline stars Timana Tahu and Sam Norton-Knight back into his starting side for Saturday’s do-or-die Super 14 final round clash with the Reds in Brisbane.

The Waratahs are currently third on the points table and they will be able to cement a play-off place if they beat the Reds who they have not lost to in the Super 14.

If the Reds pull off a surprise win the Waratahs are almost certain to miss out on the play-offs.

The Waratahs returned to Sydney on a delayed flight and with most of their baggage, including all their playing and training gear, still in South Africa.

McKenzie told AAP that the Waratahs might have to train in club gear on Tuesday but didn’t anticipate their luggage woes proving a problem in the lead-up to a match which he said would be all about “attitude” as opposed to preparation.

He also said that they had a number of “damaged bodies” but he was adamant everyone would be fit for the clash with the Reds.

McKenzie said the wet conditions in Cape Town hadn’t helped with health issues such as prop Matt Dunning’s lingering calf problem, while young winger Lachie Turner suffered a head knock.

Norton-Knight and Tahu both came off the bench in Saturday’s 13-all draw with the Stormers and McKenzie suggested that both of the would be considered for a start on Saturday.

Both players have only recently returned from injury.

McKenzie’s injury troubles saw him experiment with Lote Tuqiri at fullback in Cape Town and he said the Wallabies winger touched the ball more times than any other Waratah, but left open the possibility of a backline reshuffle.

He was pleased with what Tahu and Norton-Knight provided off the bench as impact players.

Asked if Norton-Knight could return to fullback this week, McKenzie said: “It’s a possibility”.

Questioned about the run-on prospects of Tahu, who started his rugby career on the wing but came on at outside centre last week, McKenzie said the former league star would definitely come under consideration.

Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh felt the last fortnight provided his team with good preparation for a finals campaign and compared it to England’s World Cup campaign last year.

“You look at England during the World Cup last year and the pressure that they had to go under going into the finals made a big difference when they got there, so hopefully it can have the same effect on us,” he told AAP.

While disappointed he wouldn’t get the chance to play against injured Reds fullback Chris Latham, Waugh stressed both teams had plenty to play for on Saturday.

“We know it’s a big game, their last of the season, we’ve got an enormous amount to play for, so it all shapes up for a big clash,” Waugh said.



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