A dozen of the NSW Waratahs' front-line Wallabies stars will enter the Super Rugby season without a trial game under their belts.
Rest: NSW captain Michael Hooper is among an array of stars who will sit out the Waratahs’ final Super Rugby trial.Credit:AAP
Coach Daryl Gibson has opted against playing Michael Hooper, Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Nick Phipps, Rob Simmons and Kurtley Beale in the Waratahs' final trial game against the Brumbies.
Fellow Wallabies Tolu Latu and prop Sekope Kepu will also miss the trip to Goulburn, while Tom Robertson is still on the sidelines after knee surgery in October.
But the clash won't be devoid of Australian national team talent with star flanker Jack Dempsey to make his long-awaited return from injury.
The 24-year-old missed the entire 2018 season after ripping his hamstring off the bone.
Dempsey has been named to start at No.8 with stand-in captain Will Miller and Lachlan Swinton to slot in on the flanks.
Veteran back Adam Ashley-Cooper and back-rower Ned Hanigan have been included on an extended bench after missing last week's opening trial loss to the Highlanders.
That match was headlined by the NSW debut of former Queensland star Karmichael Hunt, who impressed at inside centre.
Thursday night's game against the Brumbies will be an ideal hit-out before the Waratahs' opening Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes on February 16 at Brookvale Oval.
"I remember very well the the rivalry between the Waratahs and Brumbies and, even though this is a trial match, you can expect a very fierce game of rugby," NSW assistant coach Chris Whitaker said.
Waratahs: Alex Newsome, Curtis Rona, Lalakai Foketi, Karmichael Hunt, Cameron Clark, Mack Mason, Mitch Short, Jack Dempsey, Will Miller (capt), Lachlan Swinton, Ryan McCauley, Jed Holloway, Shambeckler Vui, Andrew Tuala, Harry Johnson-Holmes. Reserves: JP Sauni, Rory O'Connor, Chris Talakai, Le Roux Roets, Ned Hanigan, Pat Tafa, Jake Gordon, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Harrison, Richard Woolf, Will Harris, Cody Walker, Hugh Sinclair, Ben Donaldson.
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