Waratahs lock in Dennis, sweat on stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waratahs lock in Dennis, sweat on stars

By Adrian Warren 23/03/2010 04:25:27 PM Comments (0)

NSW coach Chris Hickey is confident of re-signing Wallaby forwards Wycliff Palu and Benn Robinson after the Waratahs continued their largely successful retention program by fending of Melbourne's interest in emerging forward Dave Dennis.

A Wallabies 2009 spring tourist, lock/flanker Dennis has agreed to stay with NSW for two more seasons.

It continued the recent rush of NSW re-signings, which included other forwards Ben Mowen and Kane Douglas and key backs Berrick Barnes, Daniel Halangahu and Tom Carter.

Hickey said the deals represented a vote of confidence in NSW rugby and a few more players still had to be re-signed with prop Robinson and No.8 Palu the highest profile targets.

The Waratahs may face an uphill struggle to keep Palu, who is believed to have attracted interest from Japan, while Robinson's services are still reportedly highly sort after by Melbourne.

"We are reasonably confident, but these things are never done until they are done," Hickey told reporters on Tuesday.

"Negotiations have been very positive and at this stage we'll feel confident that they will both be with us."

Prop Dan Palmer, who has signed with the Brumbies, is the only player lost by the Waratahs, who have been pressing ahead with a retention program for the past 12 months in the knowledge that Australia was always likely to get a fifth Super franchise.

"Our priority had to be the players that we've got and know we're a long way done the track to completing that, then we will start to have a bit of a look at one or two positions we may want to strengthen," Hickey said.

Dennis confirmed Melbourne had been interested in him but said study and family commitments also played a part in him staying put.

"I think I've still got a lot to offer and a lot more to improve my game, so I think it's the best environment for me here," Dennis told reporters.

"It's good to get a bit more security for the next couple of years."

Dennis didn't land a state contract until after returning from the Wallabies' spring tour where he was named as a bolter but has entrenched himself in the NSW pack this season.

Dennis initially broke into the NSW's side this year as a lock, before being switched to his more familiar role of blindside flanker.

"He's a player that has really battled through some tough times with probably three major injuries," Hickey said of Dennis.

"You're always happy to see a man with that attitude come through."

Palu and prop Al Baxter are expected to be named on Wednesday in the squad to play the Blues in Sydney on Saturday, after both had been ruled out of last week's clash with the Force.

Both men did some running on Tuesday and Hickey was optimistic they would be able to train on Thursday.

"If they are able to do that, then they will be right for Saturday," Hickey said.

Another potential change could come at outside centre where Rob Horne is tipped to line-up on Blues danger man Rene Ranger.

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