NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says his side will share the No.12 role a bit more than usual with Kurtley Beale unavailable for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Highlanders.
Beale failed a fitness test on Thursday, with Cheika opting for Matt Carraro to take the star’s place over winger and former centre Rob Horne for the clash at Allianz Stadium.
Horne spends plenty of time drifting into No.12 when Beale is playing and the left winger will pop up in the midfield against the Highlanders too, but he won’t be the only one jumping in for Carraro.
“Obviously, Matt is not the same type of player as Kurtley is, but Israel (Folau) has been picking up a bit of that slack around the second playmaker role,” Cheika said on Friday.
“We just share it around a little bit more as opposed to it being two dedicated guys and go from there.”
Carraro, 30, stepped in for Beale as a last-minute replacement in the final game of the regular season against Queensland two weeks ago and impressed Cheika with his performance in marking Reds’ giant Samu Kerevi.
“We obviously had the choice to bring Rob Horne in there as well, but we think Matt did a really good job playing against the Reds there,” he said.
The Waratahs were hopeful this week Beale would be able to overcome a quadriceps injury, but he was unable to complete the tasks set for him at training when he was restricted to a brief jog and some stretching.
“He ran yesterday, but he wasn’t able to get to top pace, so that’s pretty much a clear indicator that he’s not ready to play,” Cheika said.
“The game is going to be at top pace, that’s for sure, and – if he can’t get there – there’s no point in him being out there.”