Lions win a wake-up for Waratahs: Hickey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lions win a wake-up for Waratahs: Hickey

Ed Jackson 16/05/2011 06:08:57 PM Comments (0)

NSW Waratahs coach Chris Hickey hopes his team has learnt the lesson about underestimating South African Super Rugby teams in Australia.

The Waratahs were caught on the hop and suffered a humiliating 23-3 thumping at the hands of the Cheetahs at the SFS in March.

But after watching the bottom-of-the-table Lions maul the Brumbies last Friday night, Hickey says any of his players anticipating a walkover when the Johannesburg-based team come to Sydney this weekend should have changed their attitude.

"If there was any complacency, and I don't think there was, but if there was then that performance certainly would have solved that problem," Hickey said of the Lions' 29-20 win in Canberra.

"The Lions performed really well both in defence and attack against the Brumbies and we know they'll be a huge challenge.

"They'll come out of that game with a great deal of confidence and momentum and it's a big challenge and a big game for us on Saturday night."

Hickey's injury-depleted stocks have been boosted with the return of powerhouse hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, after he sat out the Waratahs' last-start win over the Western Force nine days ago due to the after-effects of a head knock.

Reserve rake Damien Fitzpatrick is also available after a long absence with a knee injury, meaning stand-in John Ulugia may find himself on the outer despite a strong display against the Force.

"We were really happy with John Ulugia's performance against the Force so there will have to be a bit of thought put into the selections but both Tatafu and Fitzy worked really hard during the period of time they've been off," Hickey said.

"They'll come back at a good fitness level so that won't be an issue for us.

"Getting both those players back is a real plus for us going into this game."

Second-rower Sitaleki Timani could also return if he gets a clearance during the week on the hand injury sustained against the Force.

Hickey said he would know about the 24-year-old's condition by Wednesday.

The Waratahs mentor added speculation his team was looking to play a more open game to gain bonus point wins in their bid for a finals berth wasn't affecting the team.

"We're always trying to execute a skilful game when we come out and play," Hickey said.

"There's an opposition out there and sometimes their defence has got a say in the equation as well.

"We realise, particularly when we get towards the end of the season, those bonus points will be critical for us.

"We'd like to come out and hopefully have a strong win and pick up a bonus point on Saturday night.

"We've got a good understanding of how we can play or how we want to play and we've just got to make sure that's what we keep our focus on.

"If you become distracted by too many outside influences, then your performance will suffer."

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