Sydney University backs Tom Carter and Peter Playford were part of a good news-bad news scenario when the Waratahs side to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday (Saturday am AEST) was announced this week.
Inside-centre Carter, one of the more solid NSW performers in the Super 14 this year – even in the Nathan Grey hit-and-barge-don’t-pass role he has been forced to play – finds himself on the bench along with regular fullback Sam Norton-Knight.
They’ve made way for Playford, who’ll occupy the right wing normally taken up by Lachie Turner – who’s been moved to fullback – and Kurtley Beale, who moves into Carter’s inside-centre berth.
Apparently it’s all about chasing bonus points by playing “running rugby” on the three-match tour of South Africa.
It’s all about irony, too. Carter was the inside-centre who fed Playford many of the record 28 tries he scored for Sydney University in the Shute Shield two seasons ago (along with the 19 scored by fellow winger Michael Griffin).
Five-eighth Daniel Halangahu, who has retained his spot in the NSW team for the Cheetahs match, also contributed to the Playford-Griffin show in that Shute Shield season that was dominated by Sydney University. He’s had a week to strike up a combination with Beale, who has never played at inside-centre at any level.
Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said his team needs at least two bonus-point wins from their three remaining regular season matches to make the semi-finals.
“The backline certainly has a new look to it and hopefully that will bring results on Friday,” Hickey said.
“What we’ve come up with for this first match of the tour is something a little bit different, but the players we’ve selected have all trained in those positions and many have played there in games as well, so we’re confident everyone can perform the roles we’ve asked them to.”
Sydney University is also represented in the run-on side by flanker and captain Phil Waugh and second-rowers Will Caldwell and Dean Mumm, while halfback Luke Burgess joins Carter on the bench.
Waugh will play his 108th Super match, taking him past former skipper Chris Whitaker as NSW’s most-capped player at this level.