Waratahs preparing for new perspective at SCG

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs will have a different view of the SCG when they run out on Saturday and captain Michael Hooper admits it will present a new challenge for the side’s kickers.

The SCG field has been switched from a north-south orientation to an east-west direction - the first rugby or rugby league game to be played that way.

It’s a move that is aimed at putting members in the prime seating positions, with the members and ladies stands now positioned on the sideline rather than towards the in-goals.

Last year the Waratahs beat the Reds with a north-south orientation in their first SCG clash for nearly three decades.

As well as the rotation, the slope of an oval field that is generally used for cricket and AFL will add another level of difficulty for kickers on Saturday night.

“It is going to be a challenge,” he said.

“What I’m told – and I don’t kick much – is usually you’ve got everything in perspective, you’ve got your rectangle field and the borders around there makes it easy to find touch or look for touch whereas here it actually slopes off a bit.

“They will have a border up around the field but just for their peripheral it is going to be hard.

“Both teams are in that boat. It’s our first game here, yeah it’s different alignment, good challenge tomorrow night.”

The Reds will present a very different picture for the Waratahs than their last outing, a 31-30 win over the unstructured Sunwolves and Hooper said they would need to be prepared for a bruising encounter.

“The Sunwolves are turnover and unstructured focused. The Reds are a big, set-piece team, big ball-carriers in there,” he said.

“They pride themselves on their scrum, mauling and some strong carries through the centres as well.

“I remember this game last year was a really physical outing and quite back and forth for the whole game so it’s going to be a tough one.”

Combatting, or at least breaking even against, the Reds scrum will be pivotal for the Waratahs who rely on their mobility to aim up against bigger opponents.

The Waratahs will have an all-Wallaby backline waiting to be unleashed but Hooper said there was no extra pressure on their forwards to ensure their stars find some space.

“There's no pressure on anyone. We just want to go out there and then have some fun,” he said.

"It is a super-looking backline, though, isn't it? There's talent just oozing out of there.

"For us, we're a mobile forward pack that want to get the ball to them. That will be our challenge tomorrow night.”

The Waratahs take on the Reds at the SCG on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.