The Waratahs are sweating the fitness of two backline stars and the presence of a pop music megastar as they prepare for a smashing return to the Allianz Stadium in their super rugby season opener against the Brumbies on Friday night.
Test center Izaia Perese (quads) and 2022 Rookie of the Year Dylan Pietsch (quads) are considered the “50-50s” to be named in the Waratahs’ most-anticipated lineup in years, with teenage winger Max Jorgensen set to feature on gameday squad.
NSW coach Darren Coleman is giving Perese and Pietsch 48 hours to prove their fitness before opting for Plan B, a move likely to affect who starts in the No 10 shirt and as full-back, with Tane Edmed and Ben Donaldson fight for game honors.
The news comes as NSW Rugby take on musical juggernaut Ed Sheeran to crack 30,000 spectators at Allianz Stadium for the first time in eight years.
Sheeran plays the first of two shows across town at Accor Stadium that same night. The England star, who wowed New Zealand fans when he wore a Black Ferns jersey on stage at Eden Park last week, is sure to wow sections of the Waratahs crowd.
But NSW Rugby remains optimistic about the team’s prospects, confident they will grow past 20,000 people this week and is now focused on toasting 30,000.
It would be the first time the team has broken 20,000 since 2016, two years after winning the Super Rugby title. The Waratahs haven’t played in front of a crowd of 30,000 or larger since 2015, declining performances and a tired competitive format hit crowds hard. As the team hit the road while the new Allianz Stadium was being built, attendances regularly dropped below the 10,000 mark.
The improved performance under Coleman’s leadership turned the ship around: 14,681 spectators packed out the Leichhardt Oval to watch the team’s finals game against the Blues.
https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/injury-and-ed-sheeran-ramp-up-pressure-on-waratahs-moore-park-return-20230219-p5clo6.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport NSW Waratahs versus ACT Brumbies at Allianz Stadium