The NSW Waratahs are eager to play catch-up as they begin their trial program against an NSW Pacifica side on Friday in Campbelltown.
The match will open the two-game series against the Pacifica side, largely built up from players within Shute Shield and the surrounding area.
The Waratahs are the last of the five Australian sides to play trials to conclude 2023, with the likes of Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies heading to Japan in October. Meanwhile, the Queensland Reds welcomed Panasonic Wild Knights to Ballymore, whilst the Western Force played a four-game home-and-away series against the Cheetahs.
“It’s exciting,” flyhalf Tane Edmed told Rugby.com.au, who will captain the side on Friday.
“A lot of new boys playing and developing players so it’s really exciting to get out there and play some footy.
“It’s been a tough pre-season to date but it’ll be awesome to get out there and play with new boys.”
Coach Darren Coleman has used the opportunity to blood some new recruits and faces, with Edmed to partner Junior Wallabies captain Teddy Wilson in the halves.
Wilson is one of four Junior Wallabies in the side along with prop Jack Barrett, lock Ollie McCrea and centre Jackson Ropata, who returns to his local club.
Coleman has also called up U19s standouts Austin Durbidge and Archie Saunders to the starting side after they made the Final.
Saracens recruit Hayden Thompson-Stringer will add experience in the front-row alongside former Rebels hooker Theo Fourie whilst Fijian league international Vuate Karawalevu will also make his Waratahs debut on the wing.
Centres Mosese Tuipulotu and Joey Walton form a strong centres partnership, with Walton coming off a start with Australia A against Tonga in July.
“It’s awesome to take the Waratahs out to Campbelltown,” coach Darren Coleman said via NSW Rugby. “It’s such a big catchment area for us. There’s so many talented players out there.
"To also connect with our Pacifica friends is so important for our Rugby community. We’ve got a lot in our team as well so it’s a really good opportunity for (NSW Pacifica) to show their talent and we know there’s going to be plenty of talent.
“We’re always looking for a game program to head us into Christmas. Some had a seven or ten-week (training) block so we wanted to break that up and give some of the younger players some match practice.
“Some of us believe they are not playing enough games so we looked how we could get a game that is cost-efficient for us and put back into the community so that’s how we ended up with the two-game series."
WARATAHS (1-15): Jack Barrett, Theo Fourie, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Ollie McCrea, Seb Buchannan, Austin Durbidge, Tom Silk, Hugh Sinclair, Teddy Wilson, Tane Edmed (c), Archie Saunders, Mosese Tuipulotu, Joey Walton, Vuate Karawalevu, Reece Mau’u
Replacements: Julian Heaven, Jackson Steil, Tom Ross, Lachlan Donney, Seb Cameron, Tom Goddard, Jackson Ropata, Matt Komolafe, Arnie Tancred, Ben Di Staso, Julien Cailol