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Friday, January 27, 2006

 

Super 14: Rogers to sit out Waratahs openers

Source: Rugby Heaven, Sydney Morning Herald
By: Ben Kimber

We urge you to visit the Sydney Morning Herald for your daily dose of Australian rugby. In the interim, Mat Rogers, still understandably suffering the loss of his Dad, will most likely not be participating in the first rounds of the S14.

Rugga World offers Mat our deepest sympathies.

A NUMBER of the Waratahs' Wallabies stars will return to the field this weekend against the Auckland Blues, but fullback Mat Rogers will not be among them and is not likely to be available for the opening rounds of the team's Super 14 campaign.

A grief-stricken Rogers attempted to return to training on Monday, but has now, in consultation with coach Ewen McKenzie, delayed his return to the side as he continues to mourn his father, Steve, who passed away just over three weeks ago.

"It's not surprising," a sympathetic McKenzie said. "He was there the other day but I could tell he was there in body but not in spirit. It was courageous, but he and I had a very good chat and we both agreed that we want him at 100 per cent and he wants to be at 100 per cent. We agreed that it wasn't a day-by-day proposition. We've set a day for the future and if it happens inside that then great."

That date appears to be the fourth-round match against the Sharks in Sydney on March 4, as the Waratahs start their campaign with a three-week road trip including matches in Brisbane, Cape Town and Pretoria.

With Rogers yet to return to full training since his return from the Wallabies tour, McKenzie indicated there was no point in the player attempting to rush back into the side.

"I think there's two issues," McKenzie said. "Obviously emotionally he's not right and physically he's off the pace. We'll definitely start doing some one-on-one stuff with him shortly so he's on top of that. He's definitely off the pace at the moment and he knows that and I can see that so there's no point in trying to get him to play at anything less than 100 per cent. So I think it's a fairly objective decision."

If Rogers does begin those one-on-one sessions McKenzie has not ruled out an early return. But the coach is happier this season with the depth he has to cover the significant loss of Rogers, particularly compared to the previous two seasons.

"I felt my first year we definitely suffered when he wasn't available [through injury] and I think the wins and losses probably proved that," McKenzie said. "I think we took a step forward last year and we've continued to recruit to make sure we're not solely reliant on one player in any position. So I'll just use these next couple of games to have a look at the options."

That starts this Saturday against the David Nucifora-coached Auckland Blues in Gosford, with the Waratahs yesterday naming a 29-man squad that includes seven Wallabies making their first appearances of the year.

Wendell Sailor, Morgan Turinui and Al Baxter will start the match, while Chris Whitaker, Lote Tuqiri, Matt Dunning and Tatafu Polota-Nau will all play off the bench.

The match will be Sailor's first in the blue jersey, with the former Queensland Red donning the No.11, but the players are expected to embrace McKenzie's policy of rotating through positions during the game.

"I might come into 12 [inside-centre] in defence and in attack sometimes," Sailor said. "Sometimes I might be out wide so I'm pretty open this year to playing another position and that's something I'll have to have a look at. Especially to fit into this team."

The big winger also indicated yesterday that he may have found a less turbulent home at the Waratahs. "[I've found] everyone pushing in the same direction [at NSW]," he said. "Certainly it's something that's different for me in the last couple of years."

The match kicks off at 7.30pm at Central Coast Stadium and will be played in four quarters.

WARATAHS: P Hewat; W Mafi, M Turinui, T Carter, W Sailor; S Norton-Knight, B Sheehan; D Lyons, J Campbell, R Elsom, W Caldwell, A Kanaar, A Baxter, A Freier (c), B Robinson. Reserves: A Broughton-Rouse, M Dunning, T Takiari, T Polota-Nau, W Palu, L Houston, S Hoiles, C Whitaker, T Donnelly, D Halangahu, S Berne, L Tuqiri, B Jacobs, C Siale.
Comments:
davids loves bafana bafana  
Matt Rogers.

Rogers is a very strange fella. He's probably the best backline player in all positions that I've seen. What I'm saying is that he's so versatile, and so accomplished, that he only needs about 20 minutes in any new position to become throroughly comfortable in it. However, he's getting on now and his form can't hold forever,

Patrick.
 
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