Waratahs name strong squad
February 4, 2008

The HSBC Waratahs have continued to build towards the start of the Super 14 by announcing their strongest squad this season for Thursday's 3rd Annual Rotomahana Challenge.

After securing victories over the Reds (26-10) and Brumbies (48-19) in their opening two trials, Head Coach Ewen McKenzie announced a 27-man squad which includes 13 Wallabies at this morning's Rotomahana Challenge Breakfast at Star City.

Phil Waugh will lead the side which boasts six internationals in the starting forward pack, and a further four ready to make an impact from the bench.

Australia's standout flanker from last season and 2007 Matt Burke Cup winner Rocky Elsom will make his first appearance for 2008 to strengthen a Waratah pack which performed strongly in the first two trials.

"Rocky has really come of age in the last 12 months, not just for the Waratahs, but also for the Wallabies where he established himself as a starting XV player in 2007," said Waratahs Head Coach Ewen McKenzie.

"After Phil Waugh was injured early in last year's campaign, Rocky stood up to become a leader of the pack and he'll continue to develop as one of our senior players in 2008."

Luke Burgess is unavailable after a head-knock in Friday's trial against the Brumbies, while Lote Tuqiri, David Lyons and Sam Norton-Knight are still on the sidelines.

"Dave [Lyons] is making good progress since breaking his leg at the World Cup, while Lote [Tuqiri] and Sam [Norton-Knight] are expected to be right for round one against the Hurricanes," said McKenzie.

McKenzie said he is still yet to decide on the squad for the Waratahs' Super 14 opener against the Hurricanes, and that strong trial form would be the key factor in final selection.

"The waters are still murky in terms of selection which is a good position to be in," said McKenzie.

"Winning or losing doesn't usually matter in trials, but the Rotomahana is a bit different, and it's good to see the Crusaders are taking the same attitude as well.

"One game out your systems need to be in place for the start of the Super 14 and we'll be going out to ensure our house is in order for the opening round of the competition."

Waratahs squad: Matt Dunning, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Dan Vickerman, Dean Mumm, Rocky Elsom, Phil Waugh (captain), Wycliff Palu, Josh Valentine, Kurtley Beale, Ben Jacobs, Tom Carter, Timana Tahu, Matt Carraro, Lachie Turner, Adam Freier, Al Baxter, Will Caldwell, Beau Robinson, Brett Sheehan, Andrew Smith, Sam Harris, Jeremy Tilse, Benn Robinson, Ben Mowen, Ben Batger, Alfi Mafi.

© Scrum.com

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