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Prop Tilse puts on big push for starting spot

In the shadows ... "Tilse has been overlooked over the years in favour of  Test-capped teammates".

In the shadows ... "Tilse has been overlooked over the years in favour of Test-capped teammates". Photo: Dallas Kilponen

WARATAHS veteran Jeremy Tilse is set to be rewarded for outstanding trial form with a starting spot against the Reds at the expense of Wallabies prop Benn Robinson.

It is understood Robinson will be named on the bench for Saturday's blockbuster derby in Brisbane, with Tilse starting in the front row alongside Test-capped forwards Sekope Kepu and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Robinson, a 56-cap Wallabies stalwart and Waratahs centurion who captained the squad towards the end of last year, started against the Crusaders in the side's trial match a week ago.

NSW training Click for more photos

NSW Waratahs training at Moore Park

The Tahs were put through their paces at Moore Park as they prepare to take on the Reds this weekend. Photo: Anthony Johnson

It may be a case of easing him into the season following last year's heavy Test and Super Rugby load. The Crusaders match was the first game of the season for the Waratahs' returning Test players.

Tilse, 26, with just 16 caps to his name after seven years with NSW, has impressed coach Michael Cheika with his work ethic and leadership over the gruelling preseason.

The Sydney University prop, who grew up in the Hunter region and played junior rugby with the Maitland Blacks, was vice-captain in the first trial against the Rebels. A member of the Waratahs Super squad since 2007 and the NSW academy for two seasons prior, Tilse has been overlooked over the years in favour of Test-capped teammates such Robinson, Kepu and Al Baxter.

There was reported interest from the Reds last year in the tall prop's talents. Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie was the coach at the Waratahs when Tilse was brought into the squad from the academy.

His value to the squad during the past six years was in part his versatility. Like Kepu, Tilse can play on both sides of the scrum, a skill that came in handy when Robinson and Kepu succumbed to injury in 2010.

Elsewhere Israel Folau is in line to make his Super Rugby starting debut at fullback, with Drew Mitchell and Tom Kingston rounding out the back three and Lachie Turner on the bench.

Kingston had a standout preseason, scoring three tries in combination with Folau in the Waratahs' 40-36 loss to the Blues.

Bernard Foley will steer the side from No.10 after recovering from an ankle injury, with Southern Districts youngster Ben Volavola on the bench and Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tom Carter expected to link up in the centres.

■ Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has named breakaway Michael Hooper and Ashley-Cooper as his vice-captains this season.

Hooper, who made his Wallabies debut last year and moved from the Brumbies to NSW at the end of the 2012 season, will start at open-side breakaway on Saturday, with Dennis and No.8 Wycliff Palu his likely back-row companions. Sitaleki Timani and Kane Douglas are tipped to start in the second row.

■ Quade Cooper says Folau's midas touch on a rectangular field will carry him all the way into the Wallabies back line to face the British and Irish Lions.

While Folau's NSW teammate Turner voiced the opinion of many rugby aficionados in Wednesday's Herald, that Folau will need plenty of time to adapt, Cooper thinks he can transform from novice to Test star in three months of Super Rugby.

The former Queensland and Kangaroos rugby league winger and AFL flop is set to make his top-flight rugby debut against Cooper's Reds.

Folau has already said he'd love to become a dual international and represent the Wallabies against the Lions, starting in June. That leaves him 14 Super games to convince Test coach Robbie Deans he is ready to handle one of the biggest assignments in the game.

Folau has been an instant hit in just three trial matches and Cooper expects ''the class act'' to continue shining despite rivals attempting to expose his inexperience.

with AAP

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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