Folau to start at fullback in Waratahs trial

by Staff Writer

Any Israel Folau midfield experiment will wait until the start of the Super Rugby season proper, with the Waratah returning to fullback for NSW’s final trial on Friday.

Folau has been named at fullback for the trial, despite Daryl Gibson hinting at a switch to the centres in the preseason.

The 26-year-old will play his first match since ankle surgery in the match, with his inclusion pushing new recruit Zac Guildford to the bench.

NRL convert Reece Robinson has held on to his spot in the wing, after a scintillating performance against the Chiefs.

Returning flyhalf Bernard Foley will start on the bench, in a 32-man squad, for the Waratahs with the versatile Kurtley Beale retaining the key playmaker role against the Highlanders.

The Waratahs team to face the highlanders is the strongest of its three trials, with almost all Wallabies representatives present and accounted for, bar Wycliff Palu.

Dean Mumm will start at lock, pairing with Sam Lousi in the match against the Highlanders, while Will Skelton will come off the bench as he continues to build fitness.

Club captain Dave Dennis returns to the side after concussion ruled him out of the second trial against the Chiefs last week.

Michael Hooper will line up at openside for the second week in a row, captaining the side again.

Youngster David Horwitz will line up at inside centre for his third trial start, while fellow rising star Andrew Kellaway will be on the wing.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he had seen an attitude shift in his players, who are nearing the end of a two-week New Zealand camp, that has involved some gruelling physical challenges.

“This will be the last opportunity for players to push for selection ahead of the season,” Gibson said.

 “There has been a distinct change in attitude as the season grows nearer. We have shifted our focus, correcting our off-field components in order to benefit what we do on the field.

“The Highlanders are the reigning Super Rugby champions and are therefore the perfect opposition for us in our final trial.”

The Waratahs face the Highlanders in Queenstown on Friday, kicking off at 4pm AEDT.

1.    Paddy Ryan

2.    Tatafu Polota-Nau

3.    Angus Ta’avao

4.    Dean Mumm

5.    Sam Lousi

6.    David Dennis

7.    Michael Hooper (C)

8.    Jed Holloway

9.    Nick Phipps

10.    Kurtley Beale

11.    Andrew Kellaway

12.    David Horwitz

13.    Rob Horne

14.    Reece Robinson

15.    Israel Folau

Reserves:

16.    Tolu Latu

17.    Jeremy Tilse

18.    Benn Robinson

19.    Will Skelton

20.    Jack Dempsey

21.    Matt Lucas

22.    Bryce Hegarty

23.    Zac Guildford

24.    Jake Gordon

25.    Matt Carraro

26.    Senio Toleafoa

27.    Matt Sandell

28.    Hugh Roach

29.    Ned Hanigan

30.    Brad Wilkin

31.    Bernard Foley

32.    Harry Jones

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