Waratahs add two players to squad touring SA

The Waratahs have added two players to their squad touring South Africa after the suspension of hooker Tolu Latu and towering Test lock Will Skelton.

The Waratahs have appealed the two suspensions and they head to South Africa without their first two first-choice hookers with Test hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau being rested after two concussions this season.

This means that 22-year-old hooker Hugh Roach, who has played just a handful of games, will start for the Waratahs and Manly hooker Dave Porecki will also join the touring party.

Skelton, like Latu’s ruling, will be challenged by the Waratahs and has travelled with the team in anticipation of a favourable ruling.

But if the suspension stands, his absence will be slightly lessened by the inclusion of former Wallaby Dean Mumm, who returns to the Waratahs after playing for and captaining English club Exeter since 2012.

While the Waratahs’ preparations have been dented with the loss of two of its key players, Jaques Potgieter returns to the squad, after missing the past two weeks of action with a bruised sternum.

After securing a four-try bonus-point victory over the Crusaders on Saturday evening, the Waratahs head to South Africa in top place on the Australian conference sitting on 41-points, three above the Brumbies.

It’s the first time in 2015 that the defending champions have sat atop at the Australian conference, after an inconsistent start to the season saw the Waratahs continually on the fringe of the top-six standings.

And with just three matches left in the 2015 Super Rugby regular season the Waratahs’ finals destiny lay in their own hands.

However, a slip-up over the next three weeks could still see the champions miss the finals series with eight teams in total still realistically a chance of making the top-six finals series.

Like every week in the sporting diary, the Waratahs will not be looking too far down the track and taking each week as it comes.

With that, the Waratahs must first get past an expansive Lions team, which unlike South African teams of the past, aren’t afraid of running the ball out of their own territory.

Waratahs assistant-coach Daryl Gibson said on Monday afternoon that the match promised to be an excellent ball-in-hand game against the Lions.

The Lions lay in second place on the South African conference sitting on 36-points, two adrift of the Stormers who are on 38-points. But with a scheduled bye-round in the final week of the regular season, the Lions are effectively playing for their season.

Gibson also said that the biggest challenge for the Waratahs this week would be adjusting to the time difference between Australia and South Africa.

“The biggest challenge is adjusting to our sleep patterns as quick as possible, ” Gibson said on the Waratahs site.

“When you first arrive in South Africa the time difference is first a bit of a struggle. You wake up at the wrong times and you’re training when you’re supposed to be asleep so it turns everything upside down and so the real focus for us is to make sure that we can get a descent night’s rest and get our guys in tune as quick as possible. “

The Waratahs have played two matches against South African in 2015, losing first against the Stormers by 14 points in April and more recently beating the Sharks by 15 points.

In the past two years, the Waratahs have come away with one win from two matches on their South African tours, something the side will look to better in 2015.

Waratahs touring squad

1 Ashley-Cooper,2 Beale,3 Betham,4 Carraro,5 Chapman,6 Dennis,7 Folau,8 Foley,9 Hoiles,10 Hooper,11 Horne,12 Kepu,13 Porecki,14 McCutcheon,15 McKibbin,16 Palu,17 Phipps,18 Potgieter,19 Roach,20 Robinson,21 Ryan,22 Skelton,23 Tilse,24 Naiyaravoro,25 Dempsey,26 Mumm

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