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Preview: Reds v Waratahs

22nd February 2013 12:36

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mike harris reds v waratahs preview

Grudge match: 'Tahs tackle the Reds

Following last week's bye, the Waratahs finally get to kick-off their 2013 campaign against a Reds side desperate to avoid back-to-back defeats.

Suncorp Stadium plays host to this interstate grudge match in which all eyes will be on Israel Folau's debut at full-back where he'll be a major threat if the Reds allow him time and space.

Michael Cheika also had another selection surprise in his Super Rugby coaching debut, selecting Jeremy Tilse in the front row ahead of 2012 co-captain Benn Robinson (relegated to the bench). Cheika's statement seems clear that his team won't be picked based on name and reputation, but rather on form.

Though on many occasions the form book gets thrown out of the window when these two rivals clash, and one expects Saturday's encounter won't be any different - making this game hard to predict.

The Reds have to re-earn their Australia conference favourites tag against a Waratahs team that has to once again go through the early-season hype that usually follows a cleaning out of the coaching staff.

The 'Tahs will look to give the ball to Folau more in this game, so look for a lot of in-field running, and some ball-spreading attack.

The Queenslanders know they have to match their opponents play-for-play, and will be relying on their key players like Quade Cooper to make a step up from last week's disappointing outing in red.

Prediction: The Reds will be pleased to be playing this fixture on their home turf which has proved to be a tough venue to visit for teams in recent years - including the Waratahs. Reds by six!

The teams:

Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Chris F'Sautia, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper (c), 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Nick Frisby, 21 Jono Lance, 22 Luke Morahan.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Tom Kingston, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbon, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Dave Dennis (c), 6 Michael Hooper, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Jeremy Tilse
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Ben Volavola.

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