Seven debutants named in Waratahs side to play trial against Highlanders

NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has named a new look side featuring seven Waratahs debutants to play a trial against the Highlanders in Queenstown on Friday.

Hooker Damien Fitzpatrick will captain the team for the first time while prop Harry Johnson-Holmes, locks Nick Palmer and Tom Staniforth, openside flanker Will Miller, centre Lalakai Foketi, and wingers Alex Newsome and Curtis Rona will all wear the NSW Waratahs jersey for the first time.

After a long preseason, Gibson said he was looking forward to watching some of the squad’s fresh faces in action on Friday.

“These matches provide us with the opportunity to test combinations while at the same time give the players who have completed the majority of pre-season the opportunity to perform and build our team identity. All the players have been super in their approach and deserve an opportunity.  Friday night’s game will give us an excellent assessment on where we are at in our preparation cycle,” he said.

“I have made it very clear to the team that 2018 is about delivering on our potential, performing and being at our best. The young players are hungry to push for a regular spot in the starting line-up, which creates healthy competition in the squad,” he added.

Randwick halfback Mitch Short, Warringah back Seb Wileman and Warringah prop Rory O’Connor have all joined the squad in New Zealand to cover injuries.

The Waratahs face the Highlanders at 4pm Sydney time of Friday.

Waratahs team to play trial match against Highlanders

15. Andrew Kellaway, 14. Curtis Rona, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 12. Irae Simone, 11. Alex Newsome, 10. Mack Mason, 9. Jake Gordon, 8. Michael Wells, 7. Will Miller, 6. Brad Wilkin, 5. Tom Staniforth, 4. Nick Palmer, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2. Damien Fitzpatrick (captain), 1. Paddy Ryan.

Reserves: Hugh Roach, Tom Robertson, Shambeckler Vui, Ryan McCauley, Lachlan Swinton, Mitch Short, Seb Wileman, Maclean Jones, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ned Hanigan, Rory O’Connor, Kelly Meafua