Rugby Union 4 years ago

The Weekly Cheik Up - Round 1

  • The Weekly Cheik Up - Round 1

It's incredibly rare that you will hear of a coach who publicly predicts an easy victory and Michael Cheika is no exception.

With the Waratahs heavily favoured in their opener against the Western Force, Cheika has been quick to sing their praises this week stating "My personal opinion is the Force are a very underestimated outfit. I think they’ve got classy players in the right positions to hurt the opposition." Now this isn't a surprise, but realistically a quick look at both squads suggest that NSW should comfortably win.

But we have to remember.

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This is the Waratahs we're talking about, there is no such thing as a guaranteed win.

So what decisions does Cheika have to make this week? 

1. Where does Kurtley Beale play?

The biggest question mark this week is definitely Beale, having spent time at 10,12 and 15 in trial games no one is 100% certain where he will start. You would have to assume Folau will start at full back meaning Cheika has two options:

 1. A more play-making duo of Foley at fly-half and Beale at inside centre 

 2. A more defensive due of Beale at fly-half and a "traditional" centre at 12, someone like Rob Horne for example.

This is the major issue that will surround the Waratahs backline throughout the season, it would not surprise me to see this change almost weekly dependant on opposition as I would be shocked to see Cheika willing to let Beale have to constantly face larger centres in defence.

2. What does the forward pack look like?

Throughout the trial games a lot of different forward combinations have been trialled. You would expect Hooper, Dennis, Palu, Polota-Nau and Robinson to be starters.

Star recruit Jacques Potgeiter only played one trial match and may lack the necessary match fitness to warrant a start, leaving youngster Will Skelton, Kane Douglas and Stephen Hoiles as potential candidates to play in the second row. The last front row spot will probably be fought out by Paddy Ryan and Sekope Kepu.

Thank god I don't have to make these decisions, but I'm sure Michael will make the right ones.

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