Robertson in line for Waratahs return against Brumbies

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs look set to welcome back experienced prop Tom Robertson just in time for a battle with the star-studded Brumbies pack.

Capped Wallaby Robertson has been battling a back injury since March but assistant coach Matt Cockbain said the front rower would help take some of the weight off the Waratahs' young shoulders.

Youngsters Angus Bell and Harry Johnson-Holmes have been combining solidly but Robertson's return will help ease some of the load that Bell in particular has carried this season.

"It's good. Tommy's getting older now, he wouldn't like me saying that, he's still relatively young but he brings a fair bit of experience to the group and he's a really active and solid player, good set piece player, brings plenty of energy around the park as well," Cockbain said.

"Angus has done a great job for a young bloke and we all know how he's come in and adapted to Super Rugby really well and it'll be good to give him a helping hand. Tom's another guy he looks up to, I know, and can learn a lot from as well."

The Brumbies are generally considered to have the strongest scrum of the Aussie teams but were bested in that area by the Rebels in their opening clash a fortnight ago.

Cockbain said while that showed some potential weaknesses, he was expecting the ACT side to be on top of those issues come Saturday night.

"I'd like to think there's a bit of vulnerability there but I think they'll work hard to fix any issues that they had there," he said.

"It was under pressure a bit at times although they did come back fairly well later in that game.

"They've got enough experience there and enough old heads to really correct that quite quickly.

"We know the Brumbies play a very, not so much a set piece dominated game but we know how good their set piece can be in terms of their lineout and their scrum and they launch really well from that.

"Putting that under pressure as much as we can will be a key part in trying to get over the top of them."

The Brumbies certainly got the better of the Waratahs in their last outing, the final Super Rugby game before the season was shut down in March, a 41-17 victory to the ACT side.

Cockbain said there were two simple areas NSW was looking to fix for this weekend's clash.

"There's a lot of little things that we've been working on and thinking about since that last game," he said.

"Specifically, it doesn't change too much.

"A lot of our issues come from discipline and ball security.

"We clean those two things up, we can put a lot more pressure on teams, score points and also just not give them as many shots at our line as we have been doing.

"It doesn't change too much, we were better again against the Force (last weekend) but we're going to need to step it up another level to be able to beat a good Brumbies team."

Cockbain also confirmed that the possibility of sending non-23 players back to club rugby won't be looked at for another fortnight.

Currently any players training with Super Rugby side can only train and play with that team with club rugby environments is seen to be too high a risk of COVID-19 transmission.

That policy will be reviewed after round four and could change depending on the coronavirus situation.

"At this stage there'll be a review after the fourth round by Rugby Australia and all the state unions and they'll make a decision around it then whether the guys can return," he said.

"Obviously we want to get our guys playing and we've earmarked a number of guys that would go back to club rugby but we can't do that until it's ticked off after the fourth round."

The Waratahs host the Brumbies at ANZ Stadium on Saturday July 18, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy a Kayo subscription here.