‘Title Contestant’ Tahs 15 Changes, Reds Encouraged With ‘Tough Questions’,

With the Auckland Blues picking a completely second string XV for Saturday’s match at Leachhard Oval, Waratah’s hopes of a top four finish have been greatly boosted.

Although the Blues have not yet officially announced their squad, the AEST, the official Super Rugby official program and the rugby.com.au team had a Blues 23 on their list by 11am on Thursday, showing none of the 15 people who started winning by 11am last week. The Brumbies hold a starting position.

The Blues cannot be removed from the top and will host Highlander or Force at home on AEST at 5.05pm next Saturday.

A win for the Waratas near full strength could take them to fourth place. They will need a winning bonus point for this to happen and they will lose both the Chief and the Hurricane, the Chiefs have more than seven.

Click here for Final Round Situation and Quarter Final Predictions

“It would be huge for us to finish at the heights. If we can win in front of our home crowd at Leichhart, it will be a better pace than the one we will play in the quarters,” said Wartahas flanker Charlie Gamble.

Waratahra defeated the Highlanders last weekend, finishing the job well after dropping a lead to snatch the Hurricanes victory a week ago.

“We knew they were always going to bring heat and we couldn’t finish it. It was a frustrating time for the fans and it would be nice to have an 80 minute performance to end the year and hopefully they will all be back next year. “

Gamble agreed that the victory against the Crusaders and the Highlanders gave Tahas confidence.

“We’ve been against every Kiwi team and we’ve actually been very competitive in most of the games,” he said.

“We dropped to 13 Chief and it didn’t help us. The beating of the Crusaders at home was widespread, you see the emotion that was in the boys.

“Unfortunately we only played 60 minutes against Kane and couldn’t stop it. Going to Dunedin I thought we played the best of the year.

“We are calmly confident in our ability to do that when we have to beat the Kiwis to win the title.

“We are really tight. There is faith throughout the camp that we can go all the way. ”

Gamble says he came to the season with the hope and belief that Tahs could have a strong season.

“After last year, it was hard not to win a game but I still think the whole squad in general was really tough,” he said.

“We couldn’t get down on each other and do it. We got really tough in the offseason, obviously there has been a massive change since DC came along and everyone has shopped at it.

“We’ve worked really hard, bought the game plan and we’ve just moved away from the season and turned a few heads.

Jack Gordon of Varatas passes during a Round 13 Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Varatah and Hurricanes on May 14, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Jason McCauley / Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason McCauley / Getty Images)

“I don’t know how many people thought we would win eight games this year so we proved a lot wrong and of course we got a few more wins under our belts.

“I have always believed in the strength of our team. There was a good feeling through the camp at the precinct.

“At the start of the game against the Reds and Brumbs we showed that we can compete.”

Gamble is in the best form of his career and this puts him under the trust shown to him by the coaching staff.

“It’s true for me that they gave me the opportunity and the license to play,” he said.

“At first I didn’t know what it would be like. Hoops was out with his leg injury and break. When the coaching staff gave me a start in the first couple of games I supported my ability.

“It simply came to our notice then. Everyone on the field does their work and I just do my job. I can’t say I’m doing anything special, just what I do. “

How the Blues Squads compare to this from last week.

Round 15

Blue (1-15): Jordan Ley, Ricky Riccietli, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Josh Goodhu, Anton Segner, Adrian Chot, Ten Plumtree, Sam Knock, Jock McKenzie, AJ Lam, Corey Evans, Tamati Tuya, Jacob Ratumaitavuki, Nick.

Reserve: Sone Vicena, Carl Tuinquafফে, Marcel Renata, Sam Derry, Cameron Sufoa, Akira Ione, Toufa Funaki, Nigel Ah-Wong

Round 14

Blue (1-15): Alex Hodgman, Kurt Ecklund, Ofa Tungafassi, James Tucker, Sam Derry, Tom Robinson, Dalton Papali (C), Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Bouden Barrett, Caleb Clark, Roger Twivasa-Sheik, Bryce Hess .

Reserve: Ricky Rikitelli, Carl Tuinukuafফে, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Anton Segner, Sam Knock, Tanilu Tele’a, Jarron Sullivan.

Former Wallace Will Zenia joins Brett McKay and Harry Jones to discuss selection for England tour

Former Wallabis No. 9 Will Zenia tells The Roar Rugby Podcast that she enjoys what Waratah is making.

“I really enjoyed watching the Waratas play,” Xenia said.

“I enjoy their style of playing rugby and you see their progress from young blocks to growing as individuals, growing as a team, building a culture.

“You see the culture is really strong and obviously Darren Coleman does a good job of coming in and continuing to grow it.

“The way they play their rugby is definitely a threat as a title contender.”

He said Tahs nailed a squad mentality.

Everyone understands your place in the squad, everyone contributes whether you are selected or not. You can see there is a culture of family and everyone has shopped there.

“Jack Gordon has been great all year. The captaincy has allowed his game to take on another level, and Ten Admed has really grown up in that role.

The former Reds and rebel star joked, “I like the style of rugby they play and it’s hard for me to stay in it.”

Red in the unknown

Queensland doesn’t know if to pack for two days or 10 days but Super Rugby is ready for something just the end of the Pacific season.

Sitting seventh on the ladder to the final round, the Reds flew to Christchurch to fight the second-placed Crusaders.

If the ladder position does not change, they will again be in New Zealand to fight the Crusaders in the quarter finals.

It’s a big question for the Reds to break the 11-year, eight-game drought against the Crusaders.

Dividing the Reds, Waratahs (sixth) and Hurricanes (fifth) by just three points will advance to the final round, with the last two being played on Saturday night.

“It’s interesting – we’ll find out on Saturday night,” Queensland coach Brad Thorne said on Wednesday.

“The most important thing for us is to get to the finals – a new competition, whatever it will be.”

“It’s a tough job with the Crusaders because they have been a champion team for so long.”

Queensland vice-captain Liam Wright will return to the bench after suffering an ankle injury in seven rounds, but the good news is that he has lost his temper after losing playmaker James O’Connor by tearing his hamstring.

Thorne at Lawson Creighton 10 feels he will get better during another O’Connor injury earlier this season.

“It’s disappointing to lose James, of course, but Lawson has come this time with the experience of starting against different sides and he’s excited.”

Jordan Petia has been transferred to Infield for a 13-year-old injury to Josh Fluke.

Meanwhile, Waratara made five changes to their forward pack for Saturday night’s home clash with the ladder-leading blues.

Ned Hanigan will start after his impressive cameo off the bench in his first match for Waratah after coming from Japan.

Waratara are looking to back up their 32-20 win over the Highlanders in the final round in Dunedin.

“Ned comes into the starting line-up because it was great to drop his performance off the bench last week,” said NSW coach Darren Coleman.

In other matches, the Brumbians want to fine-tune their game before the final against Moana Pacifica at home before hosting the Western Force Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon.

The Force needs a win to reach the last place in the playoffs as the rebels play eighth-ranked Highlanders on Sunday.

Although they have shared some bitter history, the Melbourne rebels will do what they can to help Western forces reach the Super Rugby Pacific final by defeating the Highlanders in their final round clash on Sunday.

The Rebels can hold the fate of the Force in their hands, with the Perth team competing with the Highlanders for eighth and final place in the play-offs.

Three points behind the Highlanders, the force will have to beat the Hurricanes in Perth on Saturday night and, if they are able to collect four points, they also need the rebels to stop the Highlanders at AAMI Park on Sunday.

Melbourne and Force create a rivalry when the latter are eliminated from a declining Super Rugby competition in 2017 and the struggling rebels survive.

Rebel Flanker Brad Wilkin, who announced that he has re-signed with the club for another two years, said his team wanted to end their inconvenient season well.

And they are happy to help their fellow Australians.

The 26-year-old said: “We definitely want to finish at home on the field because it’s something we can take forward next season.”

“And if we can help Western Force reach the final, it’s only good for Australian rugby so we will do our best to win.”

Wilkin is one of the Rebels’ best performers in a single year, winning just three of his 13 games to finish 10th.

He had two seasons with Waratah but his career came to a standstill behind Wallabis captain Michael Hooper when he also suffered an ACL injury.

Debuting as Rebels in 2019, he said he had the option to go abroad but he is happy in Melbourne and is consistently playing big minutes.

“The work that the rebels did to me that allowed me to stay in the park has been underestimated, so staying in Melbourne was a big reason for me,” Wilkin said.

A former U-20 national player, Wilkin hopes his season will not end this Sunday as he looks to a possible selection in the Australian squad, which will play three matches in Fiji in July.

“I’m optimistic but I’m not sure – we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

“Any chance to play and develop more and grow and be around quality coaches is exciting.”

(With AAP)

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