Waratahs roll out the rookies for difficult New Zealand trip

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The Waratahs have named a rookie breakaway with two minutes of experience to start in Michael Hooper’s No.7 jersey against the Blues in a team radically reshuffled by injury, suspension and Wallabies resting protocols.

Hunter Ward, 24, will make his starting debut in Super Rugby, with Hooper one of three Wallabies players not making the trip to Auckland for the Saturday night clash, along with Lalakai Foketi and Mark Nawaqanitawase.

Unusually, the experienced Charlie Gamble will remain on the bench, even with Langi Gleeson ruled out with a calf injury and Lachlan Swinton suspended for seven weeks on Tuesday.

Ward, who plays for Manly in the Shute Shield, made his Super Rugby debut off the bench against the Brumbies early this season.

Concussions have also ruled out Ned Hanigan and Dave Porecki, meaning Zac Von Appen makes his starting debut at lock and Mahe Vailanu comes into the No.2 jersey.

The back line has also undergone a major overhaul, with Harry Wilson named to start at fullback, with Max Jorgensen shifted to the wing. Joey Walton will start at inside centre.

Michael Hooper during Wallabies training.Credit: Getty

Wilson is the son of former Wallabies breakaway David Wilson, and his brother Teddy is the reserve halfback on the bench.

Another son of a former Wallaby will potentially make his Waratahs debut, with Jack Bowen also named on the bench. Bowen’s father is former Australian No.10 Scott Bowen.

Two-game Rebels breakaway Michael Icely and ex-Tigers prop Nephi Leatigaga are also on the bench and will make their Waratahs debut against the Blues.

Waratahs team to play the Blues, Saturday, 5.30pm, Eden Park.

Tom Lambert, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Zac Von Appen, Taleni Seu, Hunter Ward, Will Harris, Jake Gordon, Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Max Jorgensen, Harry Wilson

Reserves: Tolu Latu, Nephi Leatigaga, Daniel Botha, Michael Icely, Charlie Gamble, Teddy Wilson, Jack Bowen, Mosese Tuipulpotu

More to come

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