The Waratahs will likely side-line their Wallaby contingent for this week’s clash with the Highlanders despite being in with a small chance of claiming a Super Rugby play-off spot.
The franchise was under threat of being hit by Rugby Australia’s new Wallabies resting policy, but they have decided to give their younger guns a chance to impress as their play-off hopes were all but ended by the Brumbies last weekend.
Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tandy announced that players would be rested this week and he believes that the talented youth side they have will be able to perform well.
“It’s an opportunity for boys to come in and really represent what we stand for, and continue how we’ve gone through the season, making sure we fight for every minute we play. It’s massive for us (to finish with a win) and it will tell you a lot about what we are, we’re going to rest a few boys but it’s exciting. It’s going to be wet and windy so it’s a good test of character because we’re going to go there with some young boys coming in. I’m pretty excited as a coach to see those boys bar up in Invercargill,” he said.
Although the likes of Kurtley Beale, Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu and Bernard Foley will more than likely be unavailable, flanker Ned Hanigan is expected to return from injury.
While Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona will also play their final game for the Waratahs and Tandy wants to send them off on a high.
“We’re losing some senior guys who have been unbelievable for the club, so there’s some big shoes to fill but I’ve got no doubt we’ve got some young guys ready to step and take their place. Some boys have been waiting in the wings … and this weekend it will be a great opportunity to see these guys play, and that experience will lead them onto next year,” he added.
The Waratahs can still mathematically qualify for the Super Rugby play-offs if they secure a bonus-point victory against the Highlanders and other results go their way, but it seems as though they will have to attempt mission impossible without their star names.
ACT Brumbies sign Sevens flyer Corey Toole
The ACT Brumbies have confirmed the signing of Sevens superstar Corey Toole on a two-year deal.
Toole is coming off one of the best debut seasons in Sevens history, winning the Impact Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and selection in the Team of the Year.
The Gungahlin outside back has come through the ACT pathways, representing the Brumbies at Schools, Under 19s and Runners level.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity and excited to be joining the club’s Super Rugby squad full-time,” Toole said in a statement.
“These last 12 months or so have been life-changing for me and to have earned this crack at a club that I’ve wanted to represent for a long-time is surreal and my job now is just to repay that faith and to continue to earn it every day at training.
“Obviously representing Australia in Sevens has been a massive honour and my focus now is transitioning back into 15s and having a good preseason.”
Toole joins fellow Sevens star Ben O’Donnell and Jack Debreczeni in signing with the club over the past week, set to pull on the jersey on Saturday against a Waratahs development team.
Coach Stephen Larkham was thrilled to have Toole sign on as a full-time member, excited to unleash his blistering speed.
“Corey is a really exciting addition to our group,” he added.
“He’s made a name for himself in Sevens this year, but those in ACT rugby have been aware of his ability for some time and we believe he has all the tools to play Super Rugby.
“Corey’s one of our own, from our region in Wagga Wagga and I’ve no doubt he’ll be proud to represent the club and the ACT at the top level if and when he earns his chance.”
Chay Fihaki Re-Signs with the Crusaders
Dynamic young utility back Chay Fihaki has re-signed with the Crusaders presenting exciting prospects for the team taking the field in the 2023 season.
Fihaki signed with the Crusaders in 2020 as a 19 year old and has since gone from strength to strength, playing seven matches in the red and black and showing great potential.
During his youth career, Fihaki played through the midfield, but as he has progressed through Canterbury and Crusaders’ development pathways, he has nestled into a role at fullback.
Fihaki’s mission for 2023 will be to soak up as much knowledge as possible from some of his All Black teammates.
“I’m feeling excited about the season coming up. 2023 will be another year for me to grow, especially learning off the more senior players and All Blacks,” Fihaki said.
“My focus will definitely be on being more confident and backing my skillset.”
Fihaki’s X-Factor has been outlined by Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson, who said, “Chay has a massive boot and the ability to create something from nothing”.
Keep an eye out for Fihaki this season in the red and black!
NSW Waratahs secure schoolboy talent Max Jorgensen
The NSW Waratahs have secured the services of one of the brightest schoolboy rugby talents in Australia, signing Max Jorgensen.
Max Jorgensen, son of former Wallaby and NRL player Peter Jorgensen, is currently in Year 12 at St Joseph’s College and has spent three years in the NSW system representing the Waratahs Academy at U15, U16, and U18 age levels.
The talented outside back spent time in Nathan Grey’s Junior Wallabies program earlier this year and has been named in the Waratahs Development team to take on a Brumbies XV at St Edmunds College this Saturday in Canberra.
Max Jorgensen said: “I’m proud to be on board with the Waratahs, they have a terrific setup, and the new Centre of Excellence looks amazing.
“I am excited by the opportunities in rugby over the next few years and looking forward to playing high-quality rugby with some amazing players at the Waratahs.
“I’m focused on having a great pre-season and can’t wait to learn from the coaching staff and experienced teammates.”
Waratahs Head Coach, Darren Coleman said: “Securing Max is a positive outcome, not only for the Waratahs but for Australian rugby, as he is one of the elite schoolboys from the class of 2022 and highly sought after.
“It’s great he has decided to remain at the Waratahs especially after spending the past three years in our academy.
“Max understands he has a long way to go and a lot of work to do before he can become a fully-fledged Super Rugby player, but we look forward to working with him and helping him develop his game.”
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