Former Parramatta Eels fullback Reece Robinson will debut off the bench for the Waratahs on Saturday but it wasn’t an easy choice for Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson to make.
Robinson was overlooked for the starting XV in favour of experienced back Matt Carraro, who will partner ex-All Black Zac Guildford on the wings.
Gibson said the choice between Carraro and Robinson was one of the most difficult to make when deciding the starting XV for his first match as head coach.
“We tossed and turned over giving Reece Robinson a start, we felt that Matt Carraro (was the right choice),” he said.
“Given his history, he’s never let us down, (we thought) let’s give him the first opportunity to see what he’s about.”
Robinson has shown promise in his switch to Rugby, playing in all three Waratahs trials and scoring a try against the Chiefs.
“At the moment the prudent decision is to go with someone who's got experience and history and bring Reece on and give them that experience that way,” he said.
Gibson said the ability to bring Robinson on late to inject some X-Factor would be an added trick up the Waratahs’ sleeve.
“Matty’s very dependable, very consistent and it’s nice to bring on someone who could potentially be a gamer winner,” he said.
Robinson said he was feeling more settled in the 15-man game..
“I’m definitely comfortable in some aspects of the thing but there's still plenty to work on so hopefully week by week by a bit of game time and just keep working at it,” he said.
With usual flyhalf Bernard Foley ruled out with a shoulder injury, Kurtley Beale was confirmed as the side’s playmaker, with Super Rugby debutant David Horwitz at 12.
Beale’s confidence has grown through the last year, culminating in the 26-year-old playing a starring role as a utility in the Wallabies backline and Gibson said it was a growing maturity that gave him faith Beale cold lead the Waratahs around the park.
“The reason I’ve gone for Kurtley at 10 is I’ve seen a growth in maturity that I hadn’t seen in him,” he said.
“The world Cup’s been great. It’s given him the confidence to say, ‘I can do it, I’m a good Rugby player’.
“Often you need those breakthrough performances to believe in yourself.
“He’s come back a little bit more mature, definitely more mature and I trust him to run the team at 10.”
In a sense, the Waratahs backline will have some more immediate continuity in it despite the absence of Foley, with the Beale-Horwitz pairing building through the three trials.
“I’ve always liked two ball players in the 10 and 12 position and David gives that flexibility,” Gibson said.
“He’ll grow as the season goes on and given the experience he’ll be much better.”
In the forwards, former Blues prop Angus Ta’avao has snatched the tighthead spot left vacant by Sekope Kepu, with Gibson opting to shift Paddy Ryan to loosehead.