Wallabies teammates will come face to face tonight as NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds meet for the first time in the 2014 Super Rugby season. The Saturday night clash at ANZ Stadium looks set to attract a big crowd despite the forecast for wet weather across Sydney
Israel Folau was again the star man for the Waratahs last week as he notched a hat trick in the big win over Western Force. The Waratahs played a brand of rugby that looked close to the running game Michael Cheika has been trying to implement since taking over as coach. While it was undoubtedly a good performance against the Force, it was far from error free. The Waratahs will need to cut those out if they are to overcome the Reds.
For the first time NSW will be captained by Michael Hooper following the withdrawal of Dave Dennis. Dennis had been expected to recover from a minor knee injury sustained against the Force but has come up short. Stephen Hollies comes into the starting side as a replacement, with Pat McCutcheon gaining a spot on the bench.
The Reds have been handed a tough start to their campaign with back to back away games against their two major domestic rivals. They will take confidence from an impressive win in Canberra over the Brumbies, and from the fact they have won their last five matches against NSW.
The Reds have named an unchanged squad, meaning former Waratah Lachie Turner returns to face his former side. The Wallabies halves pairing of Quade Cooper and Will Genia will be key to determining the outcome of this encounter. If they are allowed to dominate then it is hard to see the Waratahs ending their losing sequence in this fixture.
Saturday 1st March, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:40
New South Wales Waratahs v Queensland Reds