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Tahs ready to bench marquee halfback

Date

Greg Growden

Cut off … Sarel Pretorius trained with the main Waratahs squad for only a small part of yesterday's training session.

Cut off … Sarel Pretorius trained with the main Waratahs squad for only a small part of yesterday's training session. Photo: Steve Christo

THE Waratahs' marquee overseas signing Sarel Pretorius is in danger of being demoted to the bench for his team's first encounter of the year against his countrymen when they play the Sharks in Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

Back-up halfback Brendan McKibbin's goalkicking ability could work in his favour when the selectors choose their team today, and see him start ahead of Pretorius, as there are concerns about placing any further pressure on Berrick Barnes, who will take over from Daniel Halangahu at five-eighth.

With Halangahu scheduled to be on the bench, Barnes was anticipated to take over as the team's goal-kicker. However there is a fear that this role could aggravate the Wallaby utility's groin complaint, which saw him miss the first two Super Rugby rounds. When Barnes was sidelined, he admitted that the injury had restricted his ability to kick goals. And the Waratahs don't want Barnes to again join their growing list of unavailable Test players. Promoting McKibbin is one way to overcome those goal-kicking dilemmas.

In line for promotion ... Brendan McKibbin.

In line for promotion ... Brendan McKibbin. Photo: Getty Images

McKibbin ran with the Waratahs' main team for virtually all of the 90-minute

training session at Allianz Stadium, while Pretorius, who was lured to Sydney this year from the Cheetahs, was in the back-up squad. It was only in the final moments of the session that Pretorius, who trained with a heavily strapped knee, and McKibbin swapped roles.

Also at the end of training, McKibbin practised his goal-kicking - clearly preparing himself in case he is required on Saturday. Barnes was also a spectator for the final part of training after having an ice pack applied to a corked left quadriceps.

Waratahs coach Michael Foley admitted that after a tough and emotional first month, it was time for several players to be rotated. With more than four months to go in the tournament, Foley knows that eventually key players, especially those involved in virtually 80 minutes of play week-in week-out, have to be either rested, or used off the bench.

When yesterday asked if he was considering ''resting and rotating players'', Foley replied: ''You will see this week that we're probably looking at that in a couple of positions throughout the team.''

Pretorius was a standout in the opening three rounds, but was outplayed by the Force halfback Brett Sheehan last Saturday night, where he struggled with the physicality of the opposition onslaught. Nonetheless it would surprise many, in particular the Sharks, if McKibbin, rather than Pretorius, starts.

When Sharks coach John Plumtree was asked yesterday who were the most dangerous threats in the Waratahs team, he said: ''We know a fair bit about Sarel Pretorius, and his running game can be really effective. He is very quick.''

Chris Alcock is also likely to regain his openside breakaway position, while Sitaleki Timani is a strong chance to be part of the Waratahs back row after Dave Dennis sat out training for the second day in a row. Dennis, who has undergone a huge workload this season, is still certain to be part of the 22-man squad.

Waratahs winger Adam Ashley-Cooper provided the necessary pep talk by stating that after their dismal season start, how they ''bounced back'' against the Sharks would ''define the character of this squad, and the character of the individuals''.

''I'm looking forward to getting out there and putting in a really good performance. Not only does this team deserve it, but so too do our supporters,'' Ashley-Cooper said.

Added Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu: ''We can't get any worse than we were last week, but the enthusiasm this week has been good.

''We did slip back against the Force, but we will improve. In this competition you just have to front up week-in, week-out. There is just no excuse for us having a game like that. We were mentally not switched on … and this week we really do have to muscle up.''

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46 vs REB 29 Report Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Report Stats
CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
RED 14 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 5 vs HUR 29 Report Stats
WAR 32 vs CRU 22 Report Stats
FOR 3 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 17 vs LIO 40 Report Stats
STO 31 vs REB 15 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35 vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25 vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36 vs CHF 9 Report Stats
FOR 10 vs RED 32 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 42 vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27 vs WAR 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
FOR 20 vs BRU 33 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB 21 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
BLU 11 vs CRU 34 Report Stats
RED 3 vs CHF 24 Report Stats
CHT 33 vs WAR 58 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19 vs LIO 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU 7 vs HIG 44 Report Stats
REB 11 vs FOR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU 24 vs CRU 37 Report Stats
CHF 13 vs HUR 21 Report Stats
WAR 31 vs RED 5 Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 29 vs CHT 42 Report Stats
SHA 34 vs STO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Qualifying Finals
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
HIG 24 vs CHF 14 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19 vs BRU 39 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Semi Finals
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 29 vs BRU 9 Stats
WAR 17 vs HIG 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Grand Final
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
HUR 14 vs HIG 21 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
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
View all
 

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