Dennis to lead Waratahs

Dave Dennis (Getty)
Dave Dennis (Getty)

Sydney - Wallaby backrower Dave Dennis will lead a Waratahs team boasting four international players against the British and Irish Lions in Sydney on Saturday, a week before the first Test.

Dennis and Test centre Rob Horne were released from the Wallaby training camp to bolster a Waratahs side missing 11 internationals through Australian commitments and injury.

The Waratahs have also been bolstered by the selection Friday of openside flank Pat McCutcheon, who has recovered from a knee injury.

Coach Michael Cheika has been able to select 63-cap Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell at fullback and prop Paddy Ryan, who made his Test debut on last year's European tour against France, at tight-head.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we want it to be something worth remembering," said Cheika, who previously coached Irish province Leinster.

"We're going to go for it, we can't be looking for a glorious defeat. As a player, you want to say that you played in an international-level fixture and you made something of it.

"We're playing against a team with a massive artillery. Obviously I'd like to have all our international players available but fair play to the ARU (Australian Rugby Union) for giving us Dave and Rob back and for releasing Bernard Foley and Matt Lucas from the Sevens camp."

Apart from Dennis and Horne, the Waratahs have eight other players in camp with the Wallabies ahead of next week's first Test in Brisbane with three other internationals sidelined through injury.

"The odds are against us, massively, but we'll try and buck them. As long as there's a chance, we'll take it," Cheika said.

"Anything in red that moves, we'll have a crack at. We need to play our game and do it as best we can and see what happens."

The rivalry between NSW and Britain dates back 125 years to the teams' first meeting at the Sydney Cricket Ground on June 2, 1888 and NSW are looking to post their first win over the Lions since their 18-14 victory in 1959.

The teams have met a total of 20 times with the Waratahs registering four wins and one draw.

In their last encounter in 2001, NSW lost 24-41 to the tourists in an ugly game remembered for Duncan McRae's flurry of punches which bloodied Lions flyhalf Ronan O'Gara.

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Pat McCutcheon, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Jeremy Tilse

Substitutes: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Richard Aho, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 AJ Gilbert, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Ben Volavola, 23Tom Kingston

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonatan Sexton, 9 Michael Phillips, 8 Jamie Heaslip. 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Mako Vunipola.

Substitutes: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Rob Kearney.

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