Penney perseveres with Tahs but expects a derby response
Photo: Stu Walmsley
NSW Waratahs head coach Rob Penney has resisted the urge for wholesale changes to his side, after last weekend’s unedifying 51-14 defeat at the hands of the Chiefs. But he has called for a response from his playing group when they take on the high-flying Brumbies in the derby in Canberra on Sunday.
Rob Simmons and Mark Nawaqanitawase both return to the starting XV following injury, with the skipper preparing to take the field for his 150th Super Rugby match, while hooker Damien Fitzpatrick also comes in for his first run-on appearance of the season. But outside that incoming trio, Penney has stuck with the majority of the side that came unstuck in Wollongong last Friday night.
Happy to ‘persevere’ with a squad that he insists are showing more in training than they have yet to muster on-field, he backs his troops to fix the issues that have blighted their fallow start to the 2020 season when they face a Brumbies side already 13pts ahead of them on the ladder.
He also believes they have been on the wrong side of the officiating ledger thus far, particularly at the breakdown where several calls have gone the way of their opponents. Check out his thoughts below:
Video courtesy of Waratahs Media
At the other end of the Hume Highway, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has also made three changes to his line-up, with James Slipper, Joe Powell and Andy Muirhead coming in for Scott Sio, Ryan Lonergan, and Toni Pulu respectively, as they look to extend their lead at the top of the Australian conference.
“The side can’t wait for the match on Sunday, this game means a lot to this club and our supporters and everyone’s chomping at the bit,” said McKellar.
“We know the Waratahs are going to be more than up for it, past form goes out the window in these games and they always grow a leg when they come down the Hume. Our supporters really get behind us for this match and we know there’s going to be a big crowd out there at GIO for some high quality Sunday afternoon footy.”
BRUMBIES v NSW WARATAHS
Sunday 14 March – KO: 4:05pm AEST
BRUMBIES: 1. James Slipper; 2. Connal McInerney; 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c); 4. Murray Douglas; 5. Cadeyrn Neville; 6. Rob Valetini; 7. Will Miller; 8. Pete Samu; 9. Joe Powell; 10. Noah Lolesio; 11. Andy Muirhead; 12. Irae Simone; 13. Tevita Kuridrani; 14. Solomone Kata; 15. Tom Banks – Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan; 17. Harry Lloyd; 18. Tom Ross; 19. Darcy Swain; 20. Tom Cusack; 21. Ryan Lonergan; 22. Bayley Kuenzle; 23. Tom Wright
NSW WARATAHS: 1. Angus Bell; 2. Damien Fitzpatrick; 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes; 4. Rob Simmons (c); 5. Tom Staniforth; 6. Lachlan Swinton; 7. Michael Hooper; 8. Jack Dempsey; 9. Mitch Short; 10. Will Harrison; 11. Mark Nawaqanitawase; 12. Karmichael Hunt; 13. Alex Newsome; 14. Jack Maddocks; 15. Kurtley Beale (vc)* Replacements: 16. Andrew Tuala; 17. Rory O’Connor; 18. Tetera Faulkner; 19. Jed Holloway; 20. Pat Tafa; 21. Michael McDonald; 22. Lalakai Foketi; 23. James Ramm
*148th Super Rugby appearance – equalling the NSW Waratahs record held by Benn Robinson