Emotional Force a potential "banana skin" for Waratahs

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Saturday's clash shapes as a "banana skin" game for the Waratahs against a Force team riding a wave of emotion, NSW coach Rob Penney says.

After a round one bye, the Force will come into the match with a major point to prove in their first Super Rugby outing in three years.

Their last Super Rugby clash, almost three years ago to the day, was also against the Waratahs and helped by a huge roller coaster of emotion they bested NSW comfortably that night.

On top of the emotion around Super Rugby, the Force had a rev-up from Australia Test cricket coach and West Australian Justin Langer this week.

Penney said the Waratahs would need to be wary of the level of emotion the Force would bring to the game and ensure they can counter that.

"We're going to have to be very careful," he said.

"It's these sort of fixtures where one team gets an emotional boost, another team for one reason or another might be a bit low and it turns into a massive banana skin.

"So, for us to be able to challenge the Force we need to be preparing well and making sure we're not getting a bit lazy in terms of  that mental prep and game prep that each individual has to go through."

Penney said the Waratahs focus had been on small improvements after a six-point loss to the Reds in the opening round but the scrum would be their main focus.

Rookie prop Angus Bell was yellow-carded at Suncorp Stadium last weekend after being bested by Taniela Tupou and Penney expects gains in that area this weekend.

"Obviously after last week's scrum performance that'd be something that we would need to address," he said.

"We've spent a lot of effort on that and hopefully we get a big improvement on that area initially particularly.

"It'd be great if we can get on the right side of the scoreboard for a start but in terms of (improvement), it's more incremental increases.

"We're seeing them all the time and with a group like what we've got it's been really inspiring for us to see what's happening at training and just hopefully we'll see those effects transform or, into the game more regularly and we're very confident this group will continue to make progress.

"Rather than big leaps forward, I think it'll just be a process that we'll be undergoing over the next through this campaign and into next year."

The Waratahs have made one change to their 23 for Saturday night's match with Karmichael Hunt coming onto the bench.

Tepai Moeroa looks set to drop out of the 24-man side announced on Thursday, initially bracketed with Ben Donaldson after the latter suffered a head knock in training.

The Waratahs host the Force at the SCG on Saturday July 11, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy a Kayo subscription here.