The NSW Waratahs are on high alert for their Weary Dunlop Shield clash with the RaboDirect Rebels on Saturday night, and whilst they are confident they can deliver a polished performance, Adam Ashley-Cooper is adamant the Melbourne side present a real challenge up front.
“The rebels to me have always flown under the radar.”
“They’re a tight nit unit, they defend really well, they’ve got some good decision makers amongst the team and they’re a nice complete outfit. They’ve got guys who can get on the ball and make it really hard for opposition teams to attack and they’re very capable of grinding out wins,” Ashley-Cooper said.
Assistant Coach Nathan Grey echoed Ashley-Cooper’s words and knows the Rebels have the potential to take their game to the next level when the chips are stacked against them.
“Straight after the game we were already talking about focusing on next week and how big a challenge the Rebels was going to be,” Grey said.
“They obviously had a very good performance over the weekend in difficult conditions down there in Canberra. They’re playing a good brand of football and they’ll be looking at the finals if they’ve got the ability to continue playing like that.”
With 10 Rounds gone, the defending Asteron Life Super Rugby Champions are in seventh place on the overall standings, just four points adrift of Tony McGahan’s Rebels. Last week the Waratahs upset the table-topping Hurricanes in Wellington and this week, they will be out to smother the Rebels chances of recording a third consecutive victory for the first time.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made changes to last week’s side, with skipper Dave Dennis moving to the No.8, while Wycliff Palu takes his place on the bench. Mitchell Chapman gets an opportunity to start at lock, with Tatafu Polata-Nau returning to the engine room in lieu of promising hooker Tolu Latu.
History suggests that the battle for the Weary Dunlop Shield will be another high-scoring spectacle, with the fixture only failing to produce more than 40 points on one occasion.
The last time these two teams met was in February of this year, when the Waratahs took home the spoils 38-28 at AAMI Park, but the Rebels never shy away from a game on the road, and are coming off an impressive win against the Brumbies in the Nation’s Capital last week.
Tune into FOX SPORTS 2 & 2HD to watch the Weary Dunlop Shield or for tickets to the game at ANZ Stadium, head to http://www.waratahs.com.au/Waratahs/MatchDay/BuyTickets.aspx