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Wallabies stars return for NSW Waratahs' pre-season trial against Chiefs

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Six Wallabies stars will make their return for the NSW Waratahs ahead of their second trial against the Chiefs in Rotorua on Friday as coach Daryl Gibson edges closer to finalising a cohesive backline before the season opener.

Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale and Rob Horne will slide back into the Waratahs side after being given an extra week after a long and arduous 2015, culminating in a World Cup final against the All Blacks at Twickenham. 

Phipps will start in his normal position at halfback, while Horne has been named at outside centre - a position Israel Folau looks set to fill when he comes back into the frame for the second trial against the Highlanders. 

Horne has indicated his desire to play in the centres and if Folau does come into the frontline as opposed to at the back, either Horne or youngster David Horwitz - who impressed in the first trial in Wagga Wagga at inside centre - will have to make way. 

The other key inclusion in the backline is that of Beale, who will mind Bernard Foley's No.10 jersey until he returns as expected for the Highlanders game. 

Clearly being polite when asked about whether he'd slip straight back into the chief playmaker position, Foley said it would be a good opportunity for Beale to have a crack at five-eighth. 


"When KB's playing footy he always loves to be involved so taking that ten jersey off him might be tough but that's exciting going into that environment," said Foley of his own return. 

The main question surrounding the Waratahs' line-up for round one against the Queensland Reds at Allianz Stadium on February 27 continues to be that of Folau. Should Gibson decide to play him at outside centre, there is a real chance Beale will move back to fullback, which might mean Zac Guildford - named at No.15 for the upcoming trial - could move up and across to one of the wings. 

Meanwhile, Reece Robinson has again been named at wing after a favourable first hit-up and will be doing everything possible to put in another good showing in his adopted code and in front of a string of Australian representatives.

In the forwards, flanker Michael Hooper, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and lock Dean Mumm will run out in the light blue for the first time this year, while club-captain Dave Dennis has been given the week off after ongoing symptoms of the concussion he suffered in the fourth minute of the Waratahs' 21-17 win over the Brumbies. 

He will be monitored over the next week will but will join the team for their scheduled camp in the Southern Alps in between games.

Hooper, who led the Waratahs to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2014, will take back the captaincy from Dennis and get his first chance in charge to lead his players around the park now that the team is completely his. 

NSW coach Daryl Gibson has said before he doesn't read too much into trial games but will no doubt be able to get a better understanding of where his side is at. 

"Away games are obviously a bit tougher, but the trip to New Zealand will only stand us in good stead," Gibson said. "Being in each other's company for 10 days touring together will also provide a good opportunity to grow the bonds between us." 

Waratahs: Zac Guildford, Reece Robinson, Rob Horne, David Horwitz, Matt Carraro, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Brad Wilkin, Michael Hooper (c), Jack Dempsey, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Angus Taavao, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jeremy Tilse. Reserves: Tolu Latu, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Senio Toleafoa, Ned Hanigan, Matt Lucas, Bryce Hegarty, Andrew Kellaway, Jake Gordon, Harry Jones, Hugh Roach, Matt Sandell

Chiefs: Shaun Stevenson, Glen Fisiiahi, Seta Tamanivalu, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Damian McKenzie, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Maama Vaipulu, Sam Cane (c), Johan Bardoul, Brodie Retallick, James Tucker, Siate Tokolahi, Nathan Harris, Mitchell Graham. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Pauliasi Manu, Siegfried Fisiihoi, Michael Allardice, Tevita Koloamatangi, Brad Weber, Chase Tiatia, Anton Lienert-Brown, Lalakai Foketi, Mitchell Karpik, Taleni Seu, Tom Sanders, Sam Vaka, Latu Vaeno, Atu Moli, Mike Kainga, Pele Cowley, Keepa Mewett, Michael Mayhew, Monty Ioane.