Super Rugby preview: Waratahs take on the Hurricanes at Allianz Stadium
Last Updated: 01/05/14 4:06pm
Wallaby number eight Wycliff Palu returns to the Waratahs starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Hurricanes at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
As one of a handful of changes made by coach Michael Cheika, Palu is promoted from the bench in a back-row reshuffle following last weekend's 21-13 loss to the Blues in Auckland.
Skipper Dave Dennis shifts to blindside flanker to accommodate Palu's return, while Jacques Potgieter moves into the second row.
In the front row, Paddy Ryan starts at tighthead instead of Sekope Kepu.
In the backs, Matt Carraro replaces Cam Crawford on the wing, while Alofa Alofa is hoping to return from injury on the bench.
Will Skelton also drops to the bench for a match the Waratahs must win to retain a place in the top six ahead of their bye next week.
"First of all, it's great motivation having Cliff back," said vice-captain Michael Hooper.
"It will be nice to have the big man back. His physicality and the opposition knowing he's in the team is a good (thing) to have."
After a slow start to the season, the fourth-placed Hurricanes have surged to the top of the New Zealand conference after a string of wins.
"They're certainly playing some really good football. They've changed their style of attack and how they go about things and it seems to be working for them," said Waratahs centre Adam Ashley-Cooper.
"So they're certainly competing up there with the Chiefs and they're obviously leading the New Zealand conference ladder for a reason. They're a good team.
"For us, it's a really big game. We're at home, we need to win. Obviously it wasn't the result we wanted last week and I feel this game could define our season."
Two players -James Broadhurst and Julian Savea - are set to clock up 50 matches for the Hurricanes this weekend when the team takes on the Waratahs.
Broadhurst made his debut for the club against the Force in 2010, while Savea debuted against the Highlanders in 2011.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has opted to take a familiar squad on the team's tour of Australia.
The team leave with a determination to continue their four-game winning streak in order to remain in play-off contention.
The only change to the Hurricanes line-up to face the Waratahs comes at reserve half-back, where Billy Guyton replaces Chris Smylie on the pine. Smylie has been ruled out with a hamstring strain.
You can see all the action from Allianz Stadium live on Sky Sports 3 - Red Button or Sky Sports Xtra at 10.40am.
Waratahs:15 Folau, 14 Carraro, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 12 Beale, 11 Horne, 10 Foley, 9 Phipps; 1 Robinson, 2 Polota-Nau, 3 Ryan, 4 Douglas, 5 Potgieter, 6 Dennis (capt), 7 Hooper, 8 Palu.
Replacements (two to be omitted): 16 Latu, 17 Tilse, 18 Kepu, 19 Skelton, 20 Hoiles, 21 McCutcheon, 22 McKibbin, 23 Lance, 24 Alofa, 25 Crawford.
Hurricanes: 15 Taylor, 14 Jane, 13 Smith (capt), 12 Leiua, 11 J Savea, 10 Barrett, 9 Perenara; 1 Franks, 2 Coles, 3 Toomaga-Allen, 4 Thrush, 5 Broadhurst, 6 Levave, 7 Lam, 8 Vito.
Replacements: 16 Matu'u, 17 Eves, 18 Goodes, 19 Thomson, 20 A Savea, 21 Guyton, 22 Bateman, 23 Proctor.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 12
Queensland Reds prop James Slipper and Highlanders forward Brayden Mitchell both handed three-week bans.
The Bulls ended a four-match losing streak as they beat the Cheetahs 26-21 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
Stormers moved off the bottom of the Super Rugby table as they edged the Highlanders 29-28 at Newlands.