South African powerhouse Jacques Potgieter has been recalled to the starting side for the NSW Waratahs’ Super Rugby semi-final with the Brumbies.
Coach Michael Cheika will ask his NSW Waratahs to “turn up the dial” after recalling South African powerhouse Jacques Potgieter for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final with the Brumbies.
Potgieter replaces Will Skelton in the second row, while star fullback Israel Folau and winger Rob Horne return from injury and illness in the only other changes to the Waratahs team that thumped the Queensland Reds last outing.
The Waratahs crushed a depleted Brumbies outfit 39-8 just three weeks ago amid a rampant seven-match winning streak that yielded the franchise their maiden Super Rugby minor premiership.
Cheika, though, has warned the Waratahs to expect a torrid battle this time around at Allianz Stadium after the Brumbies turned it up a notch to end the Chiefs’ two-year title reign last Saturday night.
“Their key players are back and they’ve got just as many international players as we have and they’ve got an excellent record in the last two or three seasons,” he said on Tuesday.
“If you look at it from the outside, it’s going to be a really good match.
“We know what we have to do. We’re concentrating very much on our style and what we need to deliver in the game – try and turn the dial up as high as possible come kick-off.”
In a rematch of last year’s final, the Brumbies piled on four tries in an uncharacteristically impressive attacking display against the Chiefs.
Cheika put the Brumbies’ new-found polish down to coach and former Wallabies five-eighth Stephen Larkham.
“He picked and chose his times very well when to run, when to kick,” Cheika said.
“Because he was such a influential playmaker, Stephen, I think they’re very much becoming like him – choosing their times to run and when to kick.
“I think they’ll do the same (on Saturday) … the key for us is to limit the opportunities that they can see, or the space that they can see.
“It’s about us concentrating on our style to give them plenty to deal with, then limit the opportunities so they’ve got less decisions to make, or less time to make decisions.”
Folau missed the Reds game with a corked thigh, but the competition’s top tryscorer said he was back to full fitness after a two-week rest.
“The body’s feeling fresh and I’m ready to go,” he said.
The Waratahs or Brumbies will play the winners of Saturday night’s other semi-final in Christchurch between the Crusaders and Sharks in the August 2 final.
Waratahs: Israel Folau, Alofa Alofa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (capt), Stephen Hoiles, Jacques Potgieter, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Res: Tola Latu, Paddy Ryan, Jeremy Tilse, Will Skelton, Mitch Chapman, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbon, Matt Carraro, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Cam Crawford (one to be omitted).