Super Rugby
Hoiles to replace Potgieter for Waratahs
May 14, 2015
Stephen Hoileshas will replace Jacques Potgieter for the Waratahs clash against the Sharks on Saturday © Getty Images
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Veteran flanker Stephen Hoiles admits he can't possibly fill Jacques Potgieter's boots, so he won't even try after earning a rare start for the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night. Coach Michael Cheika called on Hoiles on Thursday after Potgieter was ruled out of the Super Rugby champions' must-win showdown with the Sharks at Allianz Stadium with a chest injury.

The loss of the combative back-rower is a mighty blow as the titleholders look to bounce back from their shock defeat to the Western Force and remain in touch with the top six entering the countdown to the finals. The South African cult hero is returning home to the Sharks next year and was said to be desperate to square off with his future team-mates.

"Potsy's a different style of player so I don't think I can really go in their and try to play his role," Hoiles said on Thursday. "There's probably only a handful of blokes in the world who can do that and I'm not one of them. I play a different style of footy. I try and add that support play and get a little bit of second phase going for the team. But I've still got to get through a lot of work and be as physical as possible because it's tough opponents and a pretty important game."

Hoiles is accustomed to stepping up, having taken Dave Dennis's spot when the NSW captain missed last year's finals series with a knee injury. His teammates are backing the 33-year-old to deliver again on Saturday in his first start since round two.

"You lose a big ball of energy in Jacques. It's very disappointing to lose him, but Hoilesy's got a lot of experience and he'll provide something different for the side as well," said prop Benn Robinson, the most-capped player in Waratahs history. "He's not as brash as Jacques, but he has a very smart mind."

And clearly amazing powers of recovery too. Only last Thursday, assistant coach Daryl Gibson feared Hoiles may require knee surgery and miss the rest of the season.

"It's just sort of recovered pretty well. Hopefully it gets by," Hoiles said. "I got through training. There's obviously a few protocols you've got to get through to play and I got through those, so it's good."

Off contract at the end of the year, starting against the Sharks offers Hoiles a golden opportunity to prove to Gibson, who will take over from Cheika as head coach, that he's worthy of a new deal.

"I want to keep playing, at least for another year," Hoiles said.

Cheika will name his full team on Friday, but flanker Michael Hooper is almost certain to start after limping off against the Force with a knee injury. But Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is likely to come off the bench as he returns from his latest bout of concussion, with Tolu Latu to again deputise.

© AAP

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