The NSW Waratahs have named their team to face Moana Pasifika in Round 12 of the Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific competition.
Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman has named an unchanged backline but added three new faces to his forward pack that defeated the Crusaders last weekend on a memorable night at Leichhardt Oval.
Dave Porecki starts at hooker after recovering from a concussion suffered early in the match against the Chiefs in Melbourne.
Harry Johnson-Holmes has been ruled out with a knee injury that saw him replaced against the Crusaders and will be racing the clock to be fit in time for the finals. Archer Holz lines up at tight-head prop and makes his first career run-on start for the Waratahs.
Geoff Cridge starts in the second row alongside Jed Holloway, with Hugh Sinclair set to provide impact and leadership off the bench.
Charlie Gamble reverts to openside flanker in Michael Hooper’s absence (concussion), allowing Will Harris and Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco to form an abrasive back-row.
Despite losing two Wallabies to injury, Coleman was excited about the depth that is building within the squad.
“Obviously we had a few forced changes there with Harry Johnson-Holmes and Hoops, but that provides a good opportunity for the guys that come in,” Coleman said.
“Archer has been building his match experience and exposure to Super Rugby, so it’s going to be a really good test for him, and we also have the experience of Ruan backing him up off the bench.
“Mahe was great for us and will no doubt feature again going forward but coming off 74 minutes in his first-ever start, there’s the potential he could be a little flat this week.
“Porecki and Horton add a couple of fresh bodies to the side, and we feel they will help us run the bigger Moana team around.”
The Waratahs have named four new faces on the bench welcoming back Ruan Smith, Tom Horton, Langi Gleeson, and Triston Reilly.
Gleeson has been in outstanding form for Manly in the Shute Shield, scoring four tries in his past two matches.
“We’re really excited for Langi Gleeson to come back in the side, as he’s been in dynamic form for Manly over the past couple of weeks,” Coleman said.
“Langi is a huge talent, and we feel he is a big part of the future of this team. He’s been squeezed out by a high performing backrow but we’re excited to see what he does with his opportunity off the bench this weekend.”
WARATAHS 23 TO TAKE ON MOANA PASIFIKA
1 Angus Bell (Sydney Uni/ Hunters Hill/ Newington College)
2 Dave Porecki (Manly/ Manly Roos/ Redlands)
3 Archer Holz (Eastern Suburbs/Kings School)
4 Jed Holloway (Southern Districts/ Yamba Buccaneers/ Waverley College)
5 Geoffrey Cridge (West Harbour/ Darfield Rugby Club/ Christchurch Boys High)
6 Will Harris (Eastern Suburbs/ Hunters Hill/ Scots College)
7 Charlie Gamble (Eastern Suburbs/ Saracens/ St Bede’s College)
8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco (Southern Districts/ Endeavor Sports High)
9 Jake Gordon (c) (Sydney Uni/ Canterbury/ Blackwattle Bay)
10 Tane Edmed (Eastwood/Trinity Grammar)
11 Dylan Pietsch (Randwick/Leeton Phantoms/Kings School)
12 Lalakai Foketi (Manly/ Manly Roos/ Kings)
13 Izaia Perese (Randwick/ Aspley State School/ Anglican Church Grammar)
14 Mark Nawaqanitawase (Eastwood/St Patrick’s College)
15 Alex Newsome (Eastern Suburbs/ Glen Innes Elks/ St Joseph’s College)
Replacements:16 Tom Horton (Sydney Uni/ Mosman Whales/ St Joseph’s College)
17 Te Tera Faulkner (Southern Districts/ Moorabin Rams/ Marist College Canberra)
18 Ruan Smith (Hunter Wildfires/ Paarl Gymnasium)
19 Hugh Sinclair (Northern Suburbs/ Lindfield/ SHORE)
20 Langi Gleeson (Manly/ Harbord Harlequins/ St Augustines)
21 Jack Grant (Eastern Suburbs/ Orange City Lions/ St Ignatius College)
22 Ben Donaldson (Randwick/ Clovelly Eagles/ Waverly College)
23 Triston Reilly (Randwick/ Kempsey Cannonballs/ St Joseph’s College)
NSW Waratahs v Moana Pasifika Saturday 7 May – Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland Kick-off 2:35pm AEST Live on Stan Sport