Beale set to return for Waratahs

Super Rugby
by AAP

Backline linchpin Kurtley Beale is almost certain to start as the NSW Waratahs look to seize back control of Allianz Stadium in Saturday's Super Rugby blockbuster with the Brumbies.

Once an impenetrable fortress, the Waratahs have lost two straight home games for the first time in four years to be walking the finals tightrope less than halfway through the 2016 season.

They last suffered three successive defeats on their home turf back in 2007 - during a dreadful campaign in which they finished second-last - and know they must bounce back against the Brumbies or all but kiss their title hopes goodbye.

"You must win the games at home and you particularly must win the games at home against the other Aussie teams," veteran lock Dean Mumm said on Tuesday.

Back-to-back losses at their Moore Park base to the Highlanders and Melbourne Rebels are most uncharacteristic of the Tahs.

A perfect 10-from-10 home record was the bedrock of their 2014 championship triumph, while the Waratahs also went through 2011, 2010 and 2018 seasons unbeaten in Sydney.

All up, the Tahs boast an 83 per cent strike rate at home over the past eight years.

But if they slip up for a second time against the Brumbies - after going down 32-15 in the national capital in round two - the Waratahs will fall at least two wins behind Australia's conference leaders.

"We can't afford it. It's a game against a team in your own conference so they're even more important to win," Mumm said.

"But it's a huge game for us. It's the start of a good run of games but you're only as good as the result this weekend against the team that's leading our conference."

Two byes in the opening seven rounds haven't helped the Waratahs to find any momentum but with seven straight games without a break, Mumm - fittingly in Masters week - used a golfing analogy to explain how they'd look to reignite their season.

"We've probably dropped a few shots on the front nine and we're looking to pick up a few on the back," he said.

The Waratahs badly missed Beale in their disjointed display against the Rebels with an elbow injury but is likely to be named to face the Brumbies after completing training on Tuesday without a hitch.

"Kurtley, if he continues to get through (sessions), then hopefully he'll be available for selection," said assistant coach Cameron Blades.

"They'll assess him after today's training but he certainly got through that one reasonably well."


2016: Played 3, won 1, lost 2

2015: 7/9

2014: 10/10

2013: 6/8

2012: 2/8

2011: 7/8

2010: 6/6

2009: 5/7

2008: 7/7

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