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Mumm's the man to lead Waratahs: coach

By Russell Jackson 05/04/2011 05:06:24 PM Comments (0)

NSW coach Chris Hickey has backed lock Dean Mumm as the right man to lead the Waratahs in Phil Waugh's absence as they prepare for a bruising Super Rugby clash with the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night.

The leadership of the Waratahs will again come under scrutiny with veteran flanker and skipper Waugh being rested after suffering a mild calf strain during Friday's hard fought 23-16 win over the Chiefs.

Waugh left the field in that match with about half an hour remaining and the Waratahs appeared to lose their way without the Wallaby.

Hickey admits that Waugh leaves a huge hole in terms of leadership but he believes Mumm has all the key ingredients a captain should have.

"He's (Waugh) an outstanding leader and he's filled that role for a long time but I think with Phil not being there it provides us with an opportunity for people like Dean," Hickey said.

"Dean's on-field performances have been strong this year and that's an important factor for your leader.

"He has the respect of the players and he is a very intelligent player with a good understanding of tactics and strategies.

"There are three key elements you are looking for in a leader - strong on-field performance, respect from the group and tactical awareness. Dean has all of those things."

Mumm, 27, will be supported on-field by former Force player Drew Mitchell, who is a member of the Waratahs' leadership group.

"There's good clarity about how we want to play the game strategically and I think both of those players have a really good understanding and are able to communicate that to the others," Hickey said.

In their one previous clash without Waugh this season, the Waratahs suffered a humiliating 23-3 loss to the Cheetahs with Mumm captaining the side.

They also fell apart when Waugh was injured against the Crusaders who beat them 33-18 in Nelson earlier this year.

Hickey is expecting a fierce clash with the Force who are coming off a devastating 26-25 loss to newcomers the Melbourne Rebels.

"You don't get anything easy from them, they are a team with a really strong work ethic and play some very tough football," he said.

A decision on whether prop Al Baxter will travel to Perth will be made on Tuesday night.

Baxter is battling multiple injuries, including a dislocated thumb, a swollen foot and a neck strain.

Hickey confirmed that Baxter would have to get through a scrummaging session on Tuesday before getting the all-clear to play the Force.

The Waratahs name their side on Wednesday but have already confirmed that five-eighth Berrick Barnes (concussion) will not be there with Kurtley Beale to again play in the No.10 jersey.

Waugh's place will be filled by either Pat McCutcheon or Chris Alcock.

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