Bernard Foley has been ruled out of the Waratahs clash with the Brumbies, still suffering concussion symptoms.
Foley trained with the team all week and was named in the initial team on Thursday, before being a late scratching
The Waratahs were optimistic that Foley would run out for the first time this season and the flyhalf completed a final cognitive test after Friday’s captain’s run but is still struggling to shake some symptoms.
“Bernard isn’t quite 100 per cent and still experiencing some symptoms," coach Daryl Gibson said.
"He has trained all week and completed his cognitive tests. We have seen improvements but he still has some symptoms lingering.
“It’s frustrating for Bernard being so very close – he more than anyone wants to be back out on the field.
“But we won’t want to push him so we’ll give him more time and ensure we take all the necessary precautions to get him back to 100 per cent.” - Daryl Gibson
Assistant coach Chris Malone, speaking before the decision was made, said the club had Foley’s welfare at front of mind.
“I think the reality is we need to ensure that his well-being’s been looked after,” he said.
“He’s been the general for Australia and the Waratahs for a number of years now.
“Having a guy of that calibre and that much quality and that much ownership of the game - as a number 10, he really owns and that’s why he’s so good for us and that’s why he’s been so good for NSW and Australia."
Foley’s halves partner, Nick Phipps, will play his 100th game this weekend without his long-time teammate but said the players supported the club’s cautious approach.
“The players have been behind him the whole time,” he said.
“Obviously we want him back on the field but want to make sure he’s completely right, especially in modern day sport, with so much emphasis on concussion rules and regulations, it’s good to see him getting back not having recurring headaches or anything.
“I remember playing a lot of games seeing blokes get concussed and back on 10 minutes later having a run around again.
“So, the rules are changing for the better and it’s good to see the players are being protected, especially after seeing the stuff in the US.”
Phipps is happy to be back to full fitness after missing round two with an ankle injury, before starting against the Sharks last weekend.
“It was weird. I’ve never really sat out for a game before so it was weird sitting on the sideline for that one (against the Lions),” he said.
“I just made sure I tried to recover as quickly as possible and get back out there.”
Michael Hooper finished Thursday’s training session early and sat out Friday’s captain’s run as a precaution after a hamstring complaint but the Waratahs have named their skipper and are confident he is at full fitness.
Phipps and Hooper will share their century milestones this weekend, with Sekope Kepu also hitting 100 Waratahs games.
“I’m more pumped for Keps, playing 100 for the club and Hoops the wonder boy, quickest 100 for his age,” he said.
“We were talking about it before all three of us hitting our 100th on this date together and it’s obviously going to be a special occasion for all of us and something we can share for a long time.”
The Waratahs host the Brumbies on Saturday night at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.