HSBC Waratahs head coach Chris Hickey will not tinker with his side ahead of Saturday’s Super 14 semi-final, announcing an unchanged team to take on the Stormers in Cape Town.
The team has been preparing in Durban since arriving on Sunday night, with the only injury concern surrounding hooker Damien Fitzpatrick who took a blow to his knee during last Friday’s final round clash with the Hurricanes. Adam Freier joined the squad in South Africa as cover, however Fitzpatrick is expected to take his place in the team.
Hickey said there was no reason to change a winning formula from the past two weeks going into the semi-final.
“All the players who pulled up a bit sore from the Hurricanes match have all come through pretty well early in the week so we’ll take the same 22 in to compete against the Stormers on Saturday,” said Hickey.
“There was a bit of concern with Damien Fitzpatrick, but after the game he was assessed and there is no major injury there. It was a matter of how quickly he would improve over the course of the week and he’s improving every day. He ran well at training on Tuesday so he looks like he’ll be fine for Saturday.
Hickey said the side had settled well into Durban after a whirlwind period following the team’s semi-final qualification, which saw them boarding a flight to South Africa less than 36 hours after full-time was blown on their round 14 clash with the Hurricanes.
“The trip over is quite an arduous one, you’re in transit from hotel to hotel for almost 24 hours so the important thing when we got here was recovery and we think we’ve done that well in the first half of the week.
“We had a good hit-out on Tuesday, the team will rest up today and we will be on the park on Thursday and Friday which means the back end of the week will mirror our preparation for other Saturday matches.
“With that lead-up we feel we’ll go into Saturday fresh both in the body and the mind.”
Hickey said that there was little reason to read much into the two sides’ previous encounter in 2010 back in February, with a lot changing in terms of personnel and form.
“The team has changed a lot since round two. Some of that has been through injury losing guys like Cliffy Palu, Benn Robinson and Sekope Kepu and some of its just been through the evolution of the team with players like Rob Horne coming back from injury, Kurtley Beale finding his place at fullback, so the team has changed substantially since that match.”
The HSBC Waratahs will continue to prepare in Durban before transferring to Cape Town on Friday ahead of the semi-final the following night.
Waratahs: 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Lachie Turner, 13. Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Berrick Barnes, 9. Luke Burgess; 8. Dan Palmer, 7. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 6. Al Baxter, 5. Dean Mumm, 4. Kane Douglas, 3. Patrick McCutcheon, 2. Phil Waugh (capt), 1.Ben Mowen
Substitutes: 16. Damien Fitzpatrick, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Chris Thomson, 19. Dave Dennis, 20. Josh Holmes, 21. Daniel Halangahu, 22. Rory Sidey
[Info from SARugby.com]