Tahs coach rings changes for clash with the Reds
HAVING boiled down their humiliating Kings' defeat to a lack of "urgency”, the Waratahs have recalled ultra-passionate halfback Nick Phipps for their clash against the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night.
Phipps was one of four changes to the NSW starting line-up in the wake of the Tahs' shock loss to the lowly Kings, with Test forwards Dean Mumm and Sekope Kepu also returning to the run-on team.
Mumm replaces Will Skelton at lock and Kepu returns from suspension in the front row, although the engine room will be without in-form hooker Tolu Latu, who succumbed to a shoulder injury.
His place will be taken by Hugh Roach, who has a big job against Wallaby skipper Stephen Moore, who is returning for the Reds.
Irae Simone has also come back on the NSW bench.
After being benched for two games, Phipps' return in the no. 9 shirt comes at the expense of Jake Gordon, who has been "rotated” out of the 23 altogether; with Matt Lucas on the bench as reserve halfback.
Coach Daryl Gibson said Gordon's omission was not due to form.
"I'm really happy for Nick. No one was angrier (than him) when he missed out on a couple of opportunities to start,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said.
"I have been really happy with the energy he brought on the bench and now coming back into the team, he's been fantastic.
"It's a credit to his work ethic and attitude. He was fantastic against the Reds last year.
"He loves playing and loves starting against the Reds each time he gets the opportunity. Now he just needs to deliver for the team.”
Hooper said the team had endured a "long weekend” and a tough week's training after losing to the Kings.
The Waratahs were poor in a number of areas but asked to nominate the main problem thrown up by a review of the game, Hooper said: "The urgency was the biggest factor.
"We had a good start but just in the enthusiasm we saw from the Kings, they out-enthused us and their urgency was much better.
"That's how you turn 50-50 balls into your own, it's urgency and a want to get there.
"I don't think we had that on the weekend and you saw such negativity and frustration and a real down, sour feeling after the game, because we didn't show that.
"That's something we prided ourselves on in the last couple of years.”
Hooper said the team had soaked up the criticism levelled at them this week but said he was confident they could respond at Suncorp Stadium.
"In positions where we have been down and out, we have been able to come out swinging,” he said.
Waratahs backs coach Chris Malone said the Tahs had to rediscover their self-confidence by expressing themselves against the Reds.
"A big part of us is finding the belief we are a good team,” he said.
"We showed that and almost ran down the Canes. We have had patches performances but it's putting it together for 80.
"You hold onto the ball, you don't give away penalties, you ensure also that we are being true to ourselves and playing footy.
"A little bit of lack of belief or a couple of balls go on the ground, it is not a reason to go into your shell.
"We want to emphasise to the boys this week that we have some talented footballers in this team. Go and display it.
"Don't feel the pressure of "oh, we have to win” because that just leads to constricting yourself.”
Waratahs team to face Reds: 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Hugh Roach, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. David McDuling, 5. Dean Mumm, 6. Ned Hanigan, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Michael Wells, 9. Nick Phipps, 10. Bernard Foley, 11. Cam Clark, 12. David Horwitz, 13. Rob Horne, 14. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 15. Israel Folau. Reserves: 16. Damien Fitzpatrick, 17. Paddy Ryan, 18. Angus Taavao, 19. Will Skelton, 20. Jed Holloway, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. Irae Simone, 23. Bryce Hegarty.