Michael Cheika has backed Northern Suburbs winger Cam Crawford to make his HSBC Waratahs debut against Super Rugby’s defending champions the Chiefs in Sydney on Friday night.
After impressing with his club form in recent weeks, Crawford, 24, is one of three changes to the starting team that travelled to Wellington two weeks ago, with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and No. 8 Wycliff Palu returning to the starting lineup having each proving their fitness for their clubs in the Shute Shield last Saturday. Still to finalise his replacements, Cheika has named an eight man bench including another newcomer, Sydney University lock Will Skelton, and will decide on the final seven replacements based on their performances at training later today.
A skilful and versatile fullback, Crawford helped Norths to a one-point victory over Warringah on Saturday. After joining the club at the age of 18, he was plucked from grade by the Brumbies Academy in 2011 and made his Super Rugby debut for the Canberrians against the Force in 2012. The Sydney-born wing/fullback, who weighs in at an imposing 98kg and 193cm, finished as the Shute Shield’s third highest try scorer for two years running (2010 and 2011).
Following today’s announcement of the Chiefs side, Crawford will line up opposite Asaeli Tikoirotuma, who forms part of a potent backline. Click here for the full Chiefs team.
With both teams coming off losses in their last rounds, the match looks set to provide a feast of running rugby, with flyhalves Bernard Foley and Aaron Cruden topping the tables in most of Super Rugby’s attacking stats, including line breaks, line break assists, runs and run metres.
HSBC Waratahs team to play the Chiefs
Friday April 19, 2013
Allianz Stadium (7.40pm)
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Parramatta)
3. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain)
7. Michael Hooper (Manly)
8. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
11. Drew Mitchell (Balmain)
12. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
14. Cam Crawford (Northern Districts)
15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)
John Ulugia (Eastern Suburbs)
Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs)
Will Skelton (Sydney University)
Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University)
Matt Lucas (Manly)
Ben Volavola (Southern Districts)
Peter Betham (Sydney University)