GEORGINA ROBINSON July 04, 2012
Adam Ashley-Cooper captured it all in a few words after the NSW Waratahs finished training yesterday, ''We've got nothing to lose''.
And in that spirit coach Michael Foley named his starting side to take on the ACT Brumbies, selecting in the crucial halves pairing two young players with no game time there this season and benching his Test-capped lock Sitaleki Timani.
Dean Mumm will start in Timani's place despite the Tongan-born giant earning his first Test caps against Scotland and Wales last month and starting the previous four Super Rugby matches for the Waratahs.
Auckland-raised Grayson Hart has been given a chance at scrumhalf in his first Super Rugby game since 2009 and Bernard Foley's playmaking ability will be tested further at flyhalf after spending the season at fullback.
Foley also backed Wallaby Lachie Turner to start on the right wing after a four-month injury spell and two club games to prove his fitness.
The changes indicate that Foley and his assistants are searching high and low for winning combinations and finishing class in attack that the side has lacked all season.
''There's certainly not that pressure, that finals pressure, we've got nothing to lose,'' Ashley-Cooper said of the Waratahs' position.
''That's a great mentality to have - especially in your last two weeks of football - and a great attitidue to have going in against another Australian team. There's going to be a lot of heat against [the Brumbies].''
Hart was feeling the heat yesterday, suddenly the main attraction after going two seasons unnoticed.
''I'm more excited,'' he said after being peppered with questions about where, exactly, he'd come from to start against the ACT this weekend. ''A little bit nervous, but I'm just really excited. [It's] a great opportunity to play behind [that] forward pack and the whole team really, with all the Wallaby guys in there, so it's pretty exciting for me.''
Hart, 24, is the nephew of former All Blacks coach John Hart. He played seven games for the Auckland Blues in his debut year before a move down the scrumhalf pecking order forced him to head to Australia at the start of 2011. His Australian-born grandmother took care of his eligibility but a tough two years followed as he tried to crack the Super Rugby scene.
Despite training with the Waratahs he was close to heading overseas. But after bouncing between Brendan McKibbin and Sarel Pretorius inside Berrick Barnes, the coaches decided Hart's time had finally come. Only an injured, heavily strapped thumb can stop him from starting now.
''I suppose things might have come really quickly [at the Blues] and I didn't realise how lucky I was to be playing Super Rugby, so now after a long layoff I'm really excited to get another opportunity and I'm just working really hard to try and make the most of it,'' he said.