Lote Tuqiri single-handedly destroyed Tonderai Chavhanga when the Waratahs blitzed the Stormers in Sydney last year. Now Ewan McKenzie wants to account for Jongi Nokwe and Rayno Benjamin.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Ben Kimber, travelling journalist with the team, reported that Tuqiri is preparing to shift back to the wing after starting as outside centre against the Reds.
The move would mean that both Nokwe and Benjamin will be up against two massive wingers in Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor, and with neither renowned for their defensive capability, could be in for a frightful Saturday evening.
The ‘Tahs will set the trap by naming Peter Hewat at fullback, whose liability under the high ball is well known and who positionally is not the most solid 15, in an attempt to lure the Stormers into kicking on their back three – enabling Tuqiri and Sailor to run riot.
The move will be accomodated by naming Shaun Berne at inside centre. Berne is more suited to flyhalf, and provides an additional kicking option outside new 10 Tim Donnelly.
The thinking from McKenzie is clear. Dominate with the boot, and take what he perceives as a vulnerable pack on upfront, and when the Stormers attempt to relieve the pressure he has Australia’s two scariest wingers to counter-attack.
Nokwe and Benjamin can also expect to be on the receiving end of more than a few hoists, with Chris Whitaker an additional kicking option from the base of the ‘Tahs scrum.
Berne’s inclusion to relieve some of the kicking responsibility from Donnelly also indicates McKenzie’s appreciation for the skill of the Stormers back-row. With Luke Watson, Schalk Burger and Adri Badenhorst all enjoying fine games against the Cats, the prospect of all three attempting to shut down the inexperienced Donnelly was obviously not the most appealing.
WARATAHS SIDE TO PLAY THE STORMERS (probable)
Peter Hewat; Lote Tuqiri, Morgan Turinui, Shaun Berne, Wendell Sailor; Tim Donnelly, Chris Whitaker; David Lyons, Phil Waugh, Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Al Kanaar, Al Baxter, Adam Freier, Matt Dunning. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Stephen Hoiles, Wycliff Palu, Brett Sheehan, Daniel Halangahu, Sam Norton-Knight