New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made one change to his side to face Southern Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, with Peter Betham replacing Tom Kingston on the left wing. Kingston, meanwhile, was named on an eight-man bench that will be reduced to the final seven replacements later in the week.
“I’m just keeping it turning around at the moment,” Cheika told Sydney Morning Herald of his decision to name Betham and Cam Crawford as his wingers in the back three with Israel Folau in Port Elizabeth.
“I think the boys have different skill sets so we’re trying to run it according to the games that we’ve got. I think they’re very equal the two lads [Betham and Kingston, who started against the Bulls]. I think Peter has shown that he is probably a bit more direct in the way he plays; Tom is more of a finisher and he works really hard behind the ball, so it’s horses for courses.”
The Waratahs have not previously played the Kings, but the Port Elizabeth-based side have already defeated Australian Super Rugby sides Western Force and Melbourne Rebels, and drawn with the Brumbies, and New South Wales assistant coach Alan Gaffney said his players knew they had a battle on their hands.
“The Kings have a hard-working forward pack and they’re coached by Alan Solomons, a guy who’s been around the block a long, long time, having coached Ulster when I was with Munster, and Northampton in the early 2000s,” Gaffney said. “He’s a very astute guy and he’s got a hard-working squad with a lot of pace and a strong kicking game – an extremely long and astute kicking game. You saw it against the Rebels, they had ability to kick the ball 65 metres on the fly; that’s a fair kick when you’re not at altitude.
“We have got to approach this game as a battle, but that’s no different to what we’ve been doing. The attitude in the squad is great, we don’t treat any game easier than the next game – you can’t in this competition. Over the years there have been too many examples of what can happen if you don’t pay everyone the respect they deserve. We won’t make that mistake this weekend.”
Waratahs: Israel Folau; Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Peter Betham; Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (captain); Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani; Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Replacements: John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Mitchell Chapman, Patrick McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola.