Crunch time - Waratahs prepare for Hurricanes

by staff

The NSW Waratahs head to Wellington this week for their Round 10 clash with the table-topping Hurricanes, as the defending champions look to return to the winners circle in the Asteron Life Super Rugby Competition.

Last weekend, the New South Welshman went down to the Stormers 32-18 in an end-to-end contest at Allianz Stadium, with the South African outfit recording their first win in Sydney since 2007.

The Waratahs have won four of seven fixtures this season and stalwart centre Adam Ashley-Cooper believes they need to find some form if they want to compete with the Hurricanes, who currently lead the overall conference by six points.

"One, they're playing really good football at the moment and two, it's over in New Zealand so the travel is going to be a challenge. It will be a real test of character,” Ashley-Cooper said.

Waratahs Assistant Coach, Daryl Gibson, echoed Ashley-Cooper’s words and considers the New Zealand heavyweights to be genuine title contenders in 2015.

“The Hurricanes look very hungry this year and you can see that by the way Conrad Smith is leading the team, they have a very experienced backline and the forwards to me, look like they have transformed into a hard-working pack.”

“They have always been a very good team from unstructured play, they can score long-range tries and they have showed that this season,” Gibson said.

With powerhouse winger Taqele Naiyaravoro grounded in Australia due to visa issues, Peter Betham returns to the NSW starting line-up and is confident he can fill the void on Saturday night.

“It’s good to get the opportunity to come into the side. Players have to be ready in all circumstances to step up.The opportunity for me is big but in the scheme of things I’m not looking for Wallabies selection at the moment, I want to be there to support the brothers in my team," Betham said.

The Waratahs heavyweight clash with the Hurricanes is the first fixture of Saturday’s Aussie triple-header, with the Brumbies and Rebels derby to follow, before the Western Force host the Stormers later in the evening.

You can catch all the action live on FOX SPORTS 2 & 2HD from 2:30pm AEST.