Powerhouse forward Wycliff Palu returns via the bench after NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson opted for no changes to his starting side for Friday night’s Super Rugby derby with the Brumbies in Canberra.
Exciting young No.8 Jed Holloway has kept Palu at bay following his impressive display in the Waratahs’ season-opening 30-10 bonus-point win over the Queensland Reds at Allianz Stadium last Saturday night.
Palu missed the match with a hamstring injury but has been named on the bench in just two changes to Gibson’s 23-man squad to tackle the Brumbies.
The Test star comes onto the bench for utility back Reece Robinson, with Gibson going for six forward replacements in what looms as a torrid encounter between Australia’s top two franchises.
Australian under-20s representative Matt Sandell has replaced veteran prop Benn Robinson, who broke his nose and failed a concussion test after taking a knock against the Reds.
In a night of milestones for several NSW players, lock Dean Mumm will celebrate his 100th match for his state and become the Waratahs’ most-capped second-rower.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will become the equal-second highest-capped Waratah, together with Phil Waugh on 132 Super Rugby caps, behind only Robinson, who has made 145 appearances in the competition.
Tighthead prop Angus Taavao will run out for his 50th Super Rugby game, having earned 48 caps with his former Auckland-based Blues team.
And lining up for his 10th straight season with the NSW Waratahs, fellow prop Jeremy Tilse may also get the chance to earn his 50th Super Rugby cap this weekend off the bench.
NSW: Israel Folau, Matt Carraro, Rob Horne, David Horwitz, Zac Guildford, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper (capt), David Dennis, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Angus Taavao, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Paddy Ryan. Reserves: Tolu Latu, Matt Sandell, Jeremy Tilse, Sam Lousi, Wycliff Palu, Jack Dempsey, Matt Lucas, Bryce Hegarty.