Georgina Robinson July 04, 2012
Boys in blue … Grayson Hart passes the ball as No.8 Wycliff Palu looks on at the Waratahs' training session yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER captured it all in a few words after Waratahs training yesterday: ''We've got nothing to lose.''
And in that spirit, coach Michael Foley named his starting XV to take on the Brumbies this weekend, selecting in the crucial halves pairing two young players with no previous game time there this season and benching his Test-capped second-rower Sitaleki Timani.
Dean Mumm will start in Timani's place despite the Tonga-born giant earning his first two Test caps last month and starting the past four Super Rugby games for the Waratahs.
Auckland-raised Grayson Hart has been given a fighting chance at halfback in his first Super Rugby game since 2009 and Bernard Foley's playmaking capabilities will be tested further at five-eighth after spending the season at fullback.
Test winger Lachie Turner returns on the right wing after a four-month injury lay-off and two club games to prove his match fitness.
The changes are an indication the coach and his assistants are searching high and low for winning combinations and a cutting edge 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.
''That's a great mentality to have, especially in your last two weeks of football, and a great attitude 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, all of a sudden the main attraction after going two seasons unnoticed in the Waratahs' extended squad.
''I'm more excited,'' he said after being peppered with questions about where, exactly, he had come from to start against the Brumbies.
''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 Blues in his debut year in Auckland before a move down the halfback pecking order forced him to head to Australia at the start of last year in search of some games here.
His Australian-born grandmother took care of his eligibility but a tough two years followed as Hart tried to crack the Super scene again. Despite training with the Waratahs all season he was very close to heading overseas.
But after a season spent bouncing between starting Brendan McKibbin and Sarel Pretorius, the Waratahs coaches decided Hart's time had finally come this week. 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 lay-off 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.