Waratahs star to miss Brisbane Tens
WARATAHS forward Ned Hanigan has been cleared to play in the opening round of Super Rugby after scans ruled out serious damage to his knee.
Hanigan came off in NSW's trial against the Highlanders in Queenstown last Friday and it was initially feared the big lock had re-aggravated the same medial ligament injury that cut short his Spring Tour with the Wallabies last year.
The news after further tests was more positive, however, and Hanigan may even be back for the Tahs' last trial against the Rebels at Brookvale Oval on Thursday, February 15.
Hanigan won't play in the Brisbane Tens this week but a sprinkling of other Wallabies will return to get some match fitness.
As one of the faces of the tournament, Kurtley Beale is expected to be named but like Israel Folau last year, he won't be overused.
Folau won't play this year.
Tens should suit Cam Clark, who switched from sevens to 15s last year, but even the Waratahs winger is uncertain what to expect in the foreign format.
"Looking at it last year, it was more towards XVs, there were big collisions. I am interested to see how we will play it and what approach we will take to the game," Clark said.
"There are still five forwards on the field and I guess outside backs are licking their lips a bit, there's a bit more space and hopefully a few more mismatches out there. I am sure it will be exciting with plenty of tries."
Clark has some competition on his hands for wing spots, with Taqele Naiyaravoro looking in shape and Force recruit Alex Newsome a very solid player too.
Clark is a roughie for the No.13 spot but that's likely to be fought out between Curtis Rona, Lalakai Foketi and Irae Simone.
Clark said while the Tens didn't provide the chance for coaches to bed down strategies for Super Rugby, it did allow them to assess plenty of other things.
"You can't obviously play the game you want to play come the Super Rugby season but there are plenty of things to mark yourself against, the effort -related things, get some match fitness and things like that," Clark said.
"We're hoping to win the thing, but I am not sure the way we are going to play."
Exhibiting strong defence - the great problem of last year - would be a majority priority, said Clark.
"It is something we have to fix up if we hope to be successful," he said.
"Ten people on the field, there is no hiding anywhere. One-on-one tackles become much more important, connection in defence. I am sure it will be a big focus for us."