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Seven changes as Tahs take Bulls by the horn

Back in the starting side ... Sarel Pretorius.

Back in the starting side ... Sarel Pretorius. Photo: Anthony Johnson

THE WARATAHS will react to their embarrassing loss to the Brumbies by making up to seven changes, including the promotion of Sarel Pretorius and the demotion of Tom Carter, for Friday night's game against the Bulls at Allianz Stadium.

After wasting so many early attacking opportunities in Canberra, the Waratahs selectors have no option but to revamp their midfield, with Daniel Halangahu in contention to replace Carter at inside centre, while Rob Horne will return to outside centre after returning from suspension.

It is understood the Waratahs selectors were pleased with Halangahu's performance off the bench last weekend, believing he can provide better support for five-eighth Berrick Barnes, who played a more direct game, regularly attacking the gainline with ball in hand. Halangahu's involvement will give the Waratahs two midfield distributors.

After starting five games on the reserves bench Pretorius, the Waratahs' marquee overseas signing, is due for a recall to the starting line-up at the expense of Brendan McKibbin, which is not surprising, as the former Cheetahs halfback intimately knows what to expect from their South African opponents. McKibbin - who has provided the Waratahs with consistent goalkicking - and Carter both ran with the backup squad at yesterday's training session at Moore Park.

While fullback Bernard Foley ran yesterday, it remains doubtful he will be available because of his shoulder complaint, and it will be a few days before the selectors know if winger Tom Kingston, who appeared at outside-centre in Canberra, will play due to a hamstring concern.

The Waratahs pack will also have an overhaul. Openside breakaway Chris Alcock returns after having his appendix removed, and captain Rocky Elsom is preparing for his first starting appearance of the season. Although blindside breakaway Dave Dennis was one of the Waratahs' best in Canberra, the selectors know it is time for him to have a break. Although Dennis ran with the team yesterday, and Elsom was among the onlookers, a No.6 personnel change is imminent.

Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is likely to miss the Bulls match after suffering several serious head knocks against the Brumbies. While the Waratahs remain hopeful Polota-Nau will be available, they will not risk him, and John Ulugia was yesterday preparing as if he was about to take over as run-on hooker. A second row alteration is also probable.

Coach Michael Foley said the team yesterday reviewed their 17-point Canberra loss, and it wasn't pleasant. ''We're pretty disappointed by what happened. Then today we reviewed the game and were reminded of some of the things we set up for ourselves in that game and didn't finish off,'' he said.

The Waratahs, nine points behind the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference, must win their next three encounters - all against South African teams - including two in the republic - to stay in touch. But they know the dangers of looking too far ahead.

''Every team wants to play in the finals, and every team wants to win the competition. Whether those things are a reality for us is not for us to think about right now,'' Foley said.

''We just have to play as well as we can in every game we play. Look at how we started against the Brumbies with the ball in hand - it was very positive. We were challenging and breaking the line. But we didn't finish off those chances. Now it is about creating those opportunities against the Bulls, and this time finishing them off.

''If we start thinking about what's going to happen at the end of the year, we'll take our eye off the ball right now.''

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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
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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
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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
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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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
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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
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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
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ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
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