Rookie Waratah brings X-factor to Christchurch

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs let their last clash with the Crusaders slip away in the final 20 minutes in 2017, but they’re making moves to avoid the same thing happening again on Saturday.

New inclusion, prop Shambeckler Vui hasn’t had much opportunity this season, but the rookie is highly-rated for a range of skills.

Vui is replacing Paddy Ryan, who had a game to forget against the Blues, coming on for the final 10 minutes and conceding the final knock on that ended the match.

The 20-year-old showed off his X-factor in the U20s World Championship in 2016, and it’s that kind of surprise talent that could be handy in the final stages on Saturday.

Forwards coach Simon Cron said Vui would not be reined in by the Waratahs, who base their game on speed, and have improved in the fitness stakes this year.

“He's a good ball carrier, he's an explosive athlete, he's got good leg drive, he can surprise you sometimes from a ruck when you don't see him coming,” he said.

“He'll have the ability to implement those things on game day.

“The way that we play gives him those chances.

“The key thing for him is when the chance arrives he'll have a crack at it and to give him the confidence to be able to do that.”

Vui made his Waratahs debut in round two, against the Stormers, and they’ll be looking for him to make a bigger impact this time around, against a much more difficult opposition 

Christchurch is a tough place for any team to play - the Waratahs haven’t won their since 2004 and no visiting opponent has clinched a win in the past 13 matches there.

The defending champion Crusaders are all but impossible to beat on their home turf, but Christchurch native Cron said they couldn’t be afraid of their hosts.

“Respect is always earned and they've earned respect their team, they've earned respect over time and through what they do,” he said.

“Intimidation's a different word, so intimidation from my point of view, I would never expect from any of our players, never to be intimidated.

“I expect our guys to go at it and not take a backward step.

“We respect them but at the end of the day, it's 23 on 23, body on body and we've got to go at it from the kick off.”

The Waratahs take on the Crusaders on Saturday, kicking off at 5:15pm local, 3;15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.