Berrick Barnes returns from a knee injury. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/News Limited
Last season New South Wales pulled a big surprise by bringing in South African Sarel Pretorius to play scrum-half . The experiment lasted just one season with the former Emerging Springbok deemed surplus to requirements just one year in to a two-year deal after he was leapfrogged by Brendan McKibbin and Grayson Hart late in the Waratahs’ ill-fated 2012 campaign.
The 28-year-old could well come back to haunt his former team this week, though, with his Cheetahs heading across from a relatively successful trip to New Zealand for a clash at the Sydney Football Stadium. Pretorius bagged two tries in a surprise 36-19 win over the Highlanders; a victory built on a solid platform built by the forwards and some adventurous running rugby. It was just reward for the Bloemfontein-based side, which had dominated possession and territory the previous week against reigning champions the Chiefs, but somehow managed to lose 45-3 .
The Waratahs are struggling to get out of first gear and are in danger of getting left behind by the Brumbies and Reds, who both have three wins apiece. They were lucky to get away with a five-point win over the Rebels a fortnight back and were deservedly thumped 35-6 in Canberra last weekend. A big bonus is the return of utility back Berrick Barnes this weekend after missing the first three rounds with a knee injury, while Rob Horne is also back in the squad after overcoming a hamstring problem. A hamstring issue, though, will keep hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau out of the clash with the South Africans. Drew Mitchell and Sekope Kepu have both been dumped from the squad all together.
The Cheetahs won 23-3 last time they faced the Waratahs in Sydney. New South Wales played two South African teams at home last season, beating the Sharks 34-30 before dropping a tight one against the Bulls by three points .
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