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Injuries put lesser lights on big stage

Deep end … Ben Volavola will face Dan Carter.

Deep end … Ben Volavola will face Dan Carter. Photo: Chrisopher Lane

THE WARATAHS have called up versatile former Rebels back James Hilgendorf as cover at five-eighth for their clash with the Crusaders in Sydney on Thursday.

Coach Michael Cheika on Tuesday confirmed Bernard Foley and Test centre Rob Horne had joined Berrick Barnes on the injured list before the side's final trial match, leaving Super Rugby debutant Ben Volavola to oppose veteran All Black Dan Carter at Allianz Stadium.

Cheika backed the Southern Districts youngster but said bringing in Hilgendorf, who has played in Japan and with the Force, was about taking the pressure off the Waratahs' last remaining five-eighth.

''[It is] just to give [Volavola] a bit of back-up,'' Cheika said. ''I've been really happy with what he's been doing. For a guy who's first come on the scene, he'll be so excited about going out to match up against a guy like Dan Carter and it's up to the rest of the team to make sure he can challenge one of the best players in the world.''

Hilgendorf has been back at Sydney club Eastwood since returning from Melbourne last year and is in the running to claim the last Waratahs squad spot vacated by the injured Sam Lane.

Cheika said he was hoping Foley would be ready for the Waratahs' first regular-season clash with the Reds in Brisbane next weekend but Horne would be out for a month with a hamstring strain.

There was also doubt over winger Drew Mitchell, who could be rested from Thursday's game to recover from a calf niggle.

''The [injuries] are a bit troubling because they're all in that position around No.10, No.12, No.13, but sometimes circumstances push [others] to the surface,'' he said. ''Ben Volavola is going to get a good chance to take the lead in the race for that No.10 jersey … he's a very natural, instinctive player, he's still getting his head around being the main playmaker … but the way he's responded, considering his age and experience, has been surprisingly good.''

With Horne and Barnes out, debutant Michael Hodge and Tom Carter stand to inherit midfield spots, with utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper also an option.

Cheika said he was happy to be throwing in the deep end the likes of Hodge, Volavola and Israel Folau.

''At this stage I'm not too worried about [the first game] next week.

''We'll just see what comes of Thursday's game, see who plays well and who doesn't and try to pick a team for the first game from there,'' he said.

''You build a squad, you back guys and then you've got to back them through [to playing].''

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CRU 10vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
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BLU 18vs CHF 23 Report Stats
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BUL 17vs STO 29 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
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STO 27vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
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RED 5vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26vs WAR 19 Report Stats
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STO 19vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57vs CHT 14 Report Stats
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SHA 12vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36vs REB 12 Report Stats
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HIG 39vs STO 21 Report Stats
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SHA 15vs FOR 9 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23vs RED 15 Report Stats
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BRU 20vs CHT 3 Report Stats
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SHA 10vs CRU 52 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
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BUL 43vs RED 22 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
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SHA 10vs BUL 17 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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BRU 31vs HIG 18 Report Stats
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LIO 34vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19vs HUR 35 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10vs WAR 13 Report Stats
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HUR 29vs CRU 23 Report Stats
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BUL 35vs LIO 33 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
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REB 42vs BLU 22 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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CHT 24vs HIG 45 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35vs HUR 18 Report Stats
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STO 42vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27vs WAR 22 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56vs HIG 20 Report Stats
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CHT 33vs WAR 58 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
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REB 11vs FOR 13 Report Stats
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Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
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Hurricanes 16 14 2 0 170 66
Waratahs 16 11 5 0 96 52
Stormers 16 10 5 1 50 45
Highlanders 16 11 5 0 117 53
Brumbies 16 9 7 0 108 47
Lions 16 9 6 1 -22 42
Chiefs 16 10 6 0 73 48
Bulls 16 7 9 0 9 38
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