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Dennis returns for Waratahs

11th March 2014 06:29

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Dave Dennis Waratahs v Rebels 2013

Back from injury: Dave Dennis

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made just one change to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.

Skipper Dave Dennis returns to the side, at the expense of Stephen Hoiles, after recovering from the knee injury that sidelined him against the Reds two weeks' ago.

But after two bonus point wins from two outings, Cheika has refused to make any further changes to the team.

"I think they have played well enough to deserve more opportunities," he said.

"But there are a few players who are pressing hard from the bench as well. Sekope Kepu is doing very well, he's pushing hard for his chance.

"Obviously it's difficult for Stephen Hoiles because he had a very good game in the Queensland match but everyone understands their role in the team."

In the tight five, the front row remains the same, whilst lock Jacques Potgieter's robust display against the Reds has enabled him to keep his spot alongside Kane Douglas.

The backrow is now Dennis on the blindside, Michael Hooper at openside flanker and Wycliff Palu at number eight.

Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley will wear nine and 10, while Kurtley Beale will continue to make his play for higher honours from the inside centre position.

Relishing his role at outside centre, Adam Ashley-Cooper provides the link between Beale and the back three of Alofa Alofa, Peter Betham and Israel Folau, which remains unchanged.

Australia's best-performing franchise last season and playing at home, the Brumbies will be a real challenge. "I'm not trying to take the underdog tag, it's there by right," Cheika told the Waratahs' official website.

"The Brumbies have got a lot of experience, they were described in the commentary last week as very efficient and they certainly are that.

"They are best team in Australia, they were 15 minutes away from winning the Super Rugby competition last year and it's up to us to take on the best and try and compete with them away from home."

With the Waratahs' ball in hand style and the Brumbies' kick and containment, it will be a clash of two styles and a bit of a stand-off says Cheika.

"It's a case of who blinks first. I think they know we counterattack they will try kick it long and pin us down there and wait for us to make a mistake.

"The question for us is do we try and not make a mistake or do we counter attack hard and play our best footy....I think you know what we are going to choose, so we'll see how good we are."

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (capt), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tola Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Rob Horne, 24 Matt Carraro, 25 Jonno Lance.

Date: Saturday, March 15
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
Television match official: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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Australian Conference
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PosTeamPPts
1Waratahs1658
2Brumbies1645
3Western Force1640
4Reds1628
5Melbourne Rebels1621