Waratahs v Blues: Teams
At Sydney Football Stadium, Saturday March 27, kick-off 8.40am
By Rachel Griffiths. Last Updated: 25/03/10 12:46pm
Horne: Returns from injury
Young backs Rob Horne and Kurtley Beale have been promoted to the Waratahs starting XV to host Blues in Super 14 action on Saturday.
Horne steps in for Tom Carter at outside centre, while Beale replaces off-season signing Sosene Anesi at full-back, preserving the midfield partnership of Daniel Halangahu and Berrick Barnes.
The other two changes to the line-up see number eight Wycliff Palu and prop Al Baxter return from injury, but both face fitness tests on Friday ahead of the Sydney showdown.
Waratahs coach Chris Hickey says injuries prevented Horne from making an earlier comeback.
"We've said all along that Rob needed to tick all the boxes before he'd be considered as a potential starter and over the past month he's done that," said Hickey.
"He's had similar hamstring injuries over the past 12 months or so, and given he's still only 20, you can't push these things ahead too quickly."
The 10-12 slots were highly contested early in the season, but Hickey insists Beale has earned his start after impressing off the bench in the last four games.
"Credit to him, since he went back to the bench he's worked hard and had to play a number of different positions in the backline including full-back where he's looked pretty dangerous at times," said Hickey.
"This is probably the sort of game which will suit both Rob and Kurtley, and we know that Tommy Carter and Sosene Anesi will certainly have a role to play from the bench as well."
Hickey believes both Palu and Baxter will be fit for action after missing Waratahs' 14-10 victory against Western Force with hamstring and calf injuries respectively, but the coach has Locky McCaffrey and Dan Palmer on standby.
He added: "Like any players coming back from injury you want them as close to 100 per cent as possible before they take the field."
Meanwhile, the Blues have named an unchanged line-up from the side that defeated the Brumbies 39-34 last week.
The only squad change is on the bench, where Chris Smylie is bracketed at scrum-half replacement with Taniela Moa because of a recurring ankle problem.
Blues coach Pat Lam was thrilled with his side's Brumbies triumph and has rewarded them another outing, meaning fit-again Luke McAlister is on the sidelines for another week while Rene Ranger and Benson Stanley occupy the centres.
"He (McAlister) had a good 60 minutes, which is pleasing, and there's a chance to get a bit more club rugby this weekend," said Lam.
"We will see how he goes next week."
McAlister, who returned to the New Zealand club last year following a spell in England, is yet to make his Super 14 comeback after first sustaining an ankle injury and then suffering a broken nose in training.
Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Ben Mowen, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Tom Carter, 22 Sosene Anesi.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Chris Smylie/Taniela Moa, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Paul Williams.