Budding Waratahs get chance in Super Rugby curtain raiser 28/02/2013 By Waratahs Rugby Media Unit Budding HSBC Waratahs’ players of the future will take centre stage tomorrow when the HSBC Waratah A team takes on Fiji A at Allianz Stadium in a curtain raiser to NSW’s Super Rugby round 3 clash with the Melbourne Rebels. As well as offering valuable game time to the younger members of the current NSW squad to push for a spot in the match day 22, the game also gives some of club and county rugby’s best talents the opportunity to put their hand up for a place in the HSBC Waratahs Extended Playing Squad. Amongst those is Northern Suburbs captain AJ Gilbert, who will start at No.8, while the experienced Jimmy Hilgendorf will direct the traffic at flyhalf. The side will be captained by flanker Pat McCutcheon, who will pull on the sky blue again for the first time since injuring his ankle almost exactly one year ago in the round 3 clash with the Highlanders. Adding further experience will be flyer Lachie Turner, who will start at fullback, Cam Crawford (playing inside centre) and halfback Grayson Hart. The match will also provide the opportunity for NSW Country players Ben Harriss (Hamilton)and Kevin McNamara (Warnervale), who will play off the bench, to advance their skills whilst soaking in the experience of the players around them and applying it to their respective teams in the country and on the coast. The team will be coached by two former NSW Waratahs, Scott Fava (Head Coach of Northern Suburbs) and Sam Harris, club coach at Warringah. “We only have one game together, so we want to be successful as a group,” said Fava. “Second to that is individual success,” he added. “We want the guys to make sure that they are pushing for selection in the Waratahs, and pushing to the next level, but they can’t do that unless they build into the team and the culture and the plays the Cheika has put in place.” HSBC Waratahs A team to play Fiji A Friday March 1, 2013 (kick off 4.50pm) 15. Lachie Turner (Eastwood) 14. Elijah Niko (Eastern Suburbs) 13. Michael Hodge (Sydney University) 12. Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs) 11. Brenden Hartmann (Manly) 10. James Hilgendorf (Eastwood) 9. Grayson Hart (Southern Districts) 8. AJ Gilbert (Northern Suburbs) 7. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University, captain) 6. Peter Samu (Randwick) 5. Jed Holloway (Southern Districts) 4. Will Skelton (Sydney University) 3. Richard Aho (Randwick) 2. Luke Holmes (Warringah) 1. Dane Maraki (Manly) Replacements 16. Tolu Latu (Sydney University) 17. Michael Alaalatoa (Southern Districts) 18. Kevin McNamara (Warnervale) 19. Steve Cummins (Eastwood) 20. David Hickey (Sydney University) 21. Jock Merriman (Sydney University) 22. David Horwitz (Randwick) 23. Ben Harriss (Hamilton) Coaching Staff Sam Harris - coach Scott Fava - coach Mark Giacheri - manager The fixture kicks off the newly expanded annual Pacific Rugby Cup which sees four development teams from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and now Japan each play three matches in Australia before travelling to New Zealand next month to play a further three matches. The tournament will see Sydney host two other fixtures. On March 7, Sydney Academy take on Samoa A at TG Milner Oval, before running out against Tonga A at the same venue on March 12. Both matches kick off at 4pm. First held in 2006, the tournament has since gone from strength to strength. Sitting one level below the Pacific Nations Cup, it is a key rugby development pathway for participating nations, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and now Japan. Funded by the IRB, the Pacific Rugby Cup helps to expose developing players in each of the four countries to higher levels of competition each year. The 2013 Pacific Rugby Champions will be determined by points accumulated across the tournaments in Australia and New Zealand, with the final round to be played before the northern hemisphere Test series.