The Waratahs will be desperate to bounce back from a disappointing tenth place finish in 2016 and push for a finals spot this season.
Last season: 10
Sekope Kepu, Sam Needs, Tom Robertson, Paddy Ryan, Matt Sandell, Angus Ta’avao, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tolu Latu, Hugh Roach, Ned Hanigan, Ryan McCauley, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Senio Toleafoa, Jack Dempsey, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin
Jake Gordon, Matt Lucas, Nick Phipps, Andrew Deegan, Bernard Foley, Bryce Hegarty, Mack Mason, Israel Folau, Irae Simone, Rob Horne, David Horwitz, Cameron Clark, Harry Jones, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Andrew Kellaway, Reece RobinsonGame breaker
Israel Folau cannot be overlooked in this category. Switching between fullback and centre in 2016, Folau was simply unstoppable. Despite the Waratahs missing out on the playoffs, Folau remained the leading try-scorer with 11 tries and featured highly in all of the attacking statistics. Big, strong, fast and with incredible ball skills, Folau will be one of the most tightly marked men in the competition.
The biggest concern for the Waratahs this year is the amount of talent they have lost. The loss of Tatafu Polota-Nau to the Force and Sam Lousi to the Hurricanes will be felt hard in the tight five while Kurtly Beale’s departure to the UK will lessen the sides attacking ability. The arrival of Sekope Kepu from France will offset the Polota-Nau’s departure but the Waratahs are still in the negative balance when it comes to recruitment.
The new Nadolo?
With Nemani Nadolo now plying his trade in France, Taqele Naiyaravoro is set to become the most physically dominant wing in Super Rugby. At 6 foot 4 and 123kg, Naiyaravoro is similar in size to Nadolo and possesses a comparable skill set. He showed last season that he is virtually unstoppable to stop close to the line and will be hoping for more space out wide this season to showcase his full range of skills and impressive pace. Look out.
Although they have lost a number of key players, the Waratahs still have enough talent in their squad to challenge for the Australian conference. With Wallabies scattered throughout their forwards and backs, the ‘Tahs will be desperate to amend their tenth place finish last year and should sneak into the playoffs.