Waratahs upsize for Lions clash

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Waratahs will use a bulked-up forward pack to face the Lions on Friday night, re-shuffling their starting side for the cause.

Tom Staniforth will start in the second row alongside Rob Simmons for the clash, with Ned Hanigan moving to blindside flanker and Will Miller moving to the bench.

Gibson has also opted to add an extra forward to the bench, with Nick Palmer coming into the reserves and winger Cam Clark dropping out.

Simmons, Michael Wells and Miller have all been cleared of injury concerns, but Gibson said he felt a bigger backrow combination would work better against the Lions, with the Waratahs one of the smaller forward packs in Supe rRuby.

The Lions present a physical threat for the Waratahs and a major test in particular for their set piece, something of which Gibson is acutely aware.

"It's horses for courses," he said.

"If you look at the selection we made with the Sunwolves, we chose two out and out fetchers in Hooper and Miller and we feel in this game, the extra body and size that we're gong to need to combat that forward pack strength."

Will Miller will play at blindside flanker on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Waratahs faced the Lions once last year, losing 55-36, but Gibson said they had learned plenty from that clash, in Johannesburg.

"I think last year we conceded three tries from maul," he said.

"This year we've done a lot better in that area.

"Set piece-wise, while we are a small pack going around, we're punching above our weight and certainly we've cleaned up our vulnerabilities in those areas in terms of stopping lineout drives.

"We see that as a real strength for the Lions and something we're going to have to be ver y good in again on Friday night."

The Waratahs have won four matches in a row and are enjoying their best start to a year in recent memory, but  the Lions, who have finished second the past two years, are their toughest foes so far this season, Gibson said.

"It's the biggest challenge we've faced to date," he said.

"It's a true test. The Lions for the past 3-4 year shave been building into that side.

"They've been to two finals, they've got a really interesting way they play the game - huge set piece, with a lot of adventure when they have the ball.

"It's a big task for us.

"When you look at our team, we're going into the game with a lot of momentum and confidence and that's been earned by the boys and they're really up for this game."

NSW hosts the Lions on Friday night, at Allianz Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, the second in a double-header at Allianz Stadium. Adults arriving before 5pm can buy tickets for the Super W and Super Rugby games for $15.

TEAM

IN: Nick Palmer

OUT: Cam Clark

Waratahs to face the Lions

1. Tom Robertson

2. Damien Fitzpatrick

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Tom Staniforth

5. Rob Simmons

6. Ned Hanigan

7. Michael Hooper

8. Michael Wells

9. Jake Gordon

10. Bernard Foley

11. Taqele Naiyaravoro

12. Kurtley Beale

13. Curtis Rona

14/ Alex Newsome

15. Bryce Hegarty

Reserves

16. Hugh Roach

17. Harry Johnson-Holmes

18. Paddy Ryan

19. Nick Palmer

20. Jed Holloway

21. Will Miller

22. Nick Phipps

23. Lalakai Foketi