Miller to start, Newsome replaces Folau in Tokyo

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Will Miller will play alongside Michael Hooper in the Waratahs' starting lineup in Tokyo, as NSW prepares for an unpredictable Sunwolves side.

Miller, who starred in the NRC and Shute Shield in recent years, will play at blindside flanker, alongside Hooper as the Waratahs opt for a dual openside structure, in what coach Daryl Gibson expects will be a high-velocity, intense contest.

"We see Will's selection as an opportunity to play two genuine fetchers," he said.

"We believe the game's going to be played at a high intensity because of the way the Sunwolves like to play.

"Ball in play, they like to play fast, so we've opted for what we consider a really fast loose forward trio.

"Will's been excellent for us in the last five games.

"So, it's a really good opportunity for him to see what he can do for an extended period. He's been an excellent Shute Shield player, he's stepped up to this level and he's someone we want to give that opportunity to.

"We believe in tandem with Hooper in this game, it can be something a bit different for us."

Hooper has close to the heaviest workload across any player in Australian rugby and though Gibson admitted it would be nice to be able to give the flanker a rest at some point, stringing consecutive wins together on the road was more important.

"I think it's a luxury the coach would like to have. part of our trip to the north is making sure we continue our momentum," he said 

"It's something we spoke about as a team, getting away victories in this competition, crucial, and so we want to make sure we go up there and we perform."

Gibson said they were preparing for the Sunwolves as though they were a 'sixth Kiwi team', such has been the influence of ex-Highlanders coaching staff on the Japanese club.

One of their opponents' biggest threats, though, is their mystery quality, Gibson said, with the Sunwolves changing their side often.

"The Sunwolves have been a team that have been changing their roster a lot and trying to analyse them that's been the difficulty," he said.

"They've been comfortable in playing a large number of their squad, so that's been difficult for us."

Alex Newsome will replace Israel Folau in the starting line up, impressing Gibson in his 75 minutes on-field against the Brumbies.

Taqele Naiyaravoro will retain his starting spot, and Gibson simply wants more of he same from Naiyaravoro, with an emphasis on the 'more'


A set play special from the @nswwaratahs in Canberra. #BRUvWAR

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"The longer we can keep him out there, the more destructive he can be," he said.

"Certainly finished very well for us in the last two games, something different that he brings to our back three.

"Certainly (I'm) talking to him around wanting more out of him around that, getting more touches, getting ball carries and being far more threatening. He's definitely someone we want more out of.

"I think part of his transformation is in losing that weight and keeping on top of that.

"It's been well-documented, he was 136kg last year and too heavy, can't move.

"Whereas at 124 he's scoring the tries he is scoring and looking far more threatening. part of the equation for him is his physical condition and learning to play more minutes."

The Waratahs take on the Sunwolves on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 2:15pm local and 3:15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.


IN: Cam Clark:

OUT: Israel Folau

1. Tom Robertson (32)

2. Damien Fitzpatrick (36)

3. Sekope Kepu (112)

4. Ned Hanigan (20)

5. Rob Simmons (3)

6. Will Miller (4)

7. Michael Hooper (85, captain)

8. Michael Wells (20)

9. Jake Gordon (36)

10. Bernard Foley (92, vice-captain)

11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (37)

12. Kurtley Beale (115)

13. Curtis Rona (5)

14. Alex Newsome (5)

15. Bryce Hegarty (17)


16. Hugh Roach (34)

17. Harry Johnson-Holmes (5)

18. Paddy Ryan (96)

19. Tom Staniforth (5)

20. Jed Holloway (28)

21. Mitchell Short (2)

22. Lalakai Foketi (5)

23. Cameron Clark (12)