New South Wales Waratahs captain Daniel Halangahu has revealed his aggressive streak by declaring those snubbed by the Wallabies plan to humble Test-capped Queensland Reds counterparts tonight.
Halangahu was a shock selection as skipper after five-eighth Berrick Barnes was ruled out with a groin injury.
Halangahu is not part of the Waratahs’ eight-man leadership group.
Yet he becomes the first man to skipper the side since the retirement of long-standing leader Phil Waugh.
Usually quietly-spoken, Halangahu said he was “not overawed by the situation at all” and wasted little time setting the tone for the round-one clash against defending champions Queensland at ANZ Stadium.
“The Reds backline has a lot of names there and some guys with some Wallabies credentials, some of our guys are really looking to knock some of those guys off for selection down the future, but also just a bit of bragging rights as well,” Halangahu said.
“Some Reds guys have numerous Wallaby caps and some of our guys who don’t would like to push for those.
In the notable head-to-head battles between internationally-uncapped Tahs and capped Reds, blindside flanker David Dennis takes on Scott Higginbotham, lock Kane Douglas faces Rob Simmons, and inside centre Tom Carter takes on Ben Tapuai, who debuted off the Wallabies bench in the final moments against Wales at Cardiff last December.
In the Reds backline, Will Genia, Digby Ioane, Anthony Fainga’a, Tapuai and Luke Morahan have played for the Wallabies, leaving just rookie winger Dom Shipperley and Kiwi-born five-eighth Mike Harris as non-internationals.
In contrast, NSW field just two internationals in their backline – Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rob Horne.
After unveiling his eight-man leadership group three weeks ago, Waratahs coach Michael Foley said they would consider selecting different captains for specific games.
Four of the eight-man leadership group are playing on Saturday night – Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Carter and Rob Horne – but instead Halangahu was chosen.
It is expected that Barnes will return next week against Melbourne Rebels, likely relegating Halangahu to the bench.
Injured full-time skipper Rocky Elsom won’t play for four weeks.
Barnes and Halangahu captained separate NSW sides during their two trial games against Samoa and Tonga, with Halangahu primarily directing the second-string team.
by Buford Balony