Coach Michael Cheika has rushed back skipper Dave Dennis from injury for the NSW Waratahs’ Super Rugby derby with the Brumbies.
The return of skipper Dave Dennis to the back row is the only change to the NSW Waratahs’ starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby showdown with the Brumbies in Canberra.
Dennis takes over from Stephen Hoiles on the side of the scrum after recovering from the knee injury that sidelined him from NSW’s win over Queensland two weeks ago.
But after two bonus-point wins from two outings, coach Michael Cheika has refused to make any further changes to the team.
“I think they have played well enough to deserve more opportunities,” he said.
“But there are a few players who are pressing hard from the bench as well.
“Sekope Kepu is doing very well, he’s pushing hard for his chance.
“Obviously it’s difficult for Stephen Hoiles because he had a very good game in the Queensland match but everyone understands their role in the team.”
Dennis joins openside flanker Michael Hooper and No.8 Wycliff Palu in a Test-strength back row for the Australian conference derby.
Winger Alofa Alofa is the only member of the Waratahs’ backline yet to play for the Wallabies, but Cheika is still playing the underdogs card.
“It’s there by right,” said Cheika.
“The Brumbies have got a lot of experience. They were described in the commentary last week as very efficient and they certainly are that.
“They are best team in Australia, they were 15 minutes away from winning the Super Rugby competition last year and it’s up to us to take on the best and try and compete with them away from home.”
NSW Waratahs: Israel Folau, Alofa Alofa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Peter Betham, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (capt), Kane Douglas, Jacques Potgieter, Paddy Ryan, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Tola Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton, Stephen Hoiles, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Rob Horne, Matt Carraro, Jonno Lance.