Experience to show in 'Tahs backline - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Experience to show in 'Tahs backline

By Samantha Broun 04/02/2009 04:02:30 PM Comments (0)

Waratahs captain Phil Waugh says extra experience in the NSW backline could be the difference between second place and a Super 14 title.

Waugh expects to see more maturity from the players entering their second Super season at the club and hopes to see the results of lessons learned after finishing runners-up to the Crusaders in 2008.

Tom Carter, Rob Horne and Matt Carraro made their Super debuts in the Waratahs backline last year, while fellow new faces Luke Burgess and Timana Tahu have the added experience of their first Wallabies tour.

"I think the experience of the backline is probably a point of difference for us," said Waugh on Tuesday.

"Last year I think the average age was 21 or 22.

"Having those guys come through tough games at the end of the season and experience a final, hopefully they can come through and perform better than they did last year.

"Last year was a great opportunity ... and hopefully we can go one better this year."

Young NSW centre pairing Carter and Horne face a huge test when they mark Wallaby stars Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper in Thursday night's final pre-season trial against the Brumbies at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Australian captain Mortlock has shifted to inside centre with Ashley-Cooper outside him and they will be a massive threat in attack, and a true test of Carter and Horne's defence.

Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said he is expecting advances in Carter's game.

"Tommy really flourished last year and I'm sure that experience will help him play even better this season," Hickey said.

"He's worked really hard on his rehab and he's injury free which should give him every opportunity to play to his full ability.

"We're fortunate because we've got a lot of versatility with people like Robbie Horn and Timana Tahu (who are) all capable of playing 12 or 13 and that versatility in the midfield will be a real strength."

Hickey also said he will use performances over the last two trials to decide on his starting side for the season proper.

"If a player started against Fiji (last week) then the player who's competing with them most strongly for that position, they get to start this week against the Brumbies," Hickey said.

"We'll have a look at their performance over those two games and make a selection for the Wellington game (against the Hurricanes in round one)."

Brumbies coach Andy Friend said his team hadn't focused on the Waratahs ahead of the trial match and were concentrating on their own game.

"It's an opportunity for our players to put their best foot forward again," he said.

"This is our second trial, and we've been saying all along that their form is very important as we go into the season and we'll select based on that."

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