Waratahs

Wallaby Tuqiri selected at Fullback

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Ewen McKenzie’s mind games ahead of Saturday’s all-important Super 14 clash against the Stormers at Newlands has gained momentum with his crafty selection of Lote Tuqiri, at fullback, and debutant Matt Carraro.


Tuqiri, one of international rugby leading wings with 50 Wallaby Test caps,has been moved to the unfamiliar fullback position at a time when there is no room for experimenting, given the do-or-die status of the tournament.


If the move were to backfire and the Waratahs suffer defeat and their second place on the log could literally be hit for a six.


There are so many possible log permutations by time the weekend’s round of fixtures are completed, and depending on the results, a Waratahs defeat could well see the 2005 Super 14 finalists plummet to sixth position.


As if Tuqiri’s move is not risky enough, McKenzie has thrown rookie Carraro in at the deep end.

 

As it is, apart from Tuqiri, there is not too much experience among the Waratahs backs considering centre Rob Horne and flyhalf Kurtley Beale were both named in the Aussie Under 20 squad to play in Wales at the IRB Junior World Cup next month.

Tuqiri at fullback could prompt a change in tactics by the Stormers, who usually kick up field rather than try to find touch.


Their reasoning behind that ploy is that line-outs offer opposition teams a platform to launch attacks, which may have been well rehearsed.


However, kicking down Tuqiri’s throat could pose problems for the Stormers’ defence as he has the pace and power to pose problems on counter-attacks.


McKenzie named his team late on Thursday afternoon, as opposed to the usual Wednesday team announcement.


The delay would have held up the Stormers’ call on their game plan for Saturday’s match but McKenzie said at least the Stormers would know which side would run out at Newlands. He wasn’t sure if the Stormers would send out their team as named on Wednesday.


“Every time I’ve had a team playing against a team coached by Rassie (Eramus), he’d make changes just before the start,” said McKenzie.


“We’ll have to wait and see if he does that again this time.” Late changes on match day was a feature of Erasmus’ tenure as the Cheetahs coach and he earned the nickname ‘Rassie the Rascal’ in the Aussie media.

 

The habit of late team changes once prompted an Australian rugby writer to say Rassie Erasmus is a name synonymous with rat-cunning unpredictability.

 

However, Erasmus has not been guilty of that since taking over the reigns at the Stormers but there is a lurking suspicion that could change on Saturday.


The suspicion stems from the fact that Erasmus has said that his friend, Leinster prop Ollie le Roux, was coming to visit him in Cape Town this week.


Since then Erasmus has said that Le Roux would only be used as emergency cover for the three squad props, one of which is Brian Mujati who has been battling with flu this week.


Mujati has also been sitting out at training this week. By the sound of things Waratahs coach McKenzie has done his homework.

 

“There’s nothing wrong with Mujati. I saw him in a coffee shop today (Thursday),” said McKenzie.

 

If Le Roux does make a surprise appearance McKenzie knows enough about him.

 

“I’ve played against him when it was still Super 12 rugby so I know what he’s capable of,” said McKenzie who played Test rugby for Australia from 1990 to 1997.

 

The Waratahs team to play the Stormers is as follows:


Lote Tuqiri, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Matt Carraro, Kurtley Beale, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (captain), Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Dean Mumm, Al Baxter, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson.


Reserves: Adam Freier, Sekope Kepu, Will Caldwell, David Lyons, Brett Sheehan, Sam Norton-Knight, Timana Tahu.


Sapa  – Super14.com

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