Waratahs lock in pre-season matches
December 17, 2013
The Waratahs will hit the road in preparation for the 2014 season © Getty Images
The New South Wales Waratahs will hit the road in preparation for season 2014 with their three pre-season matches locked in-place.
The road trip will see the Waratahs kick off their trials on the NSW and Victorian border at Albury, before returning to Sydney's Allianz Stadium for game two. The Waratahs then head to Newcastle for their final hit out prior to the commencement of the Super Rugby Season.
The Waratahs will take on interstate rivals the Melbourne Rebels, on the banks of the Murray River in Albury on Saturday February 1. Next up they will take on John Kirwan's Auckland Blues at Allianz Stadium on Friday February 7 before meeting the Highlanders in the steel city's Hunter Stadium on February 14.
Despite travelling close to 1500 kilometres NSW coach Michael Cheika is adamant they are not away games and the NSW country can expect more in the future.
"They are actually home games since they are all in NSW. We will have to wait a couple of seasons for the possibility of taking our Super Rugby matches to the country areas so any chance we can we want to play in front of our country supporters," he said.
But it's not just about playing, during the drive they'll be doing their best to connect with every community they pass through and more and the coach is ready to shake plenty of hands.
"For me the fans run the game. Power to support the team, passion to drive the team to become better, even though a lot of our country fans are not able to get to the games, there is strong support for rugby in the country and we want to make stronger support for Waratahs in the country," he said. "We have done a lot out in the country over the past 12 months and we are going to be doing a lot more with a country blitz for juniors later in the year. The Waratahs want to get to the juniors and young kids following the games, watching us play and getting excited about possibly playing for the Waratahs in the future and as a state representative team it's really important that they are doing that."
"A lot of the lads come from the country areas, so we'll be making some stops along the way, to renew our links with the rural community of NSW. Some of those places have probably felt some connection to the Brumbies in the past but if it's in NSW, we would love the people to want to support their state's team."
The Waratahs, whose Spring tour Wallabies players return to training in mid January, open their 2014 Super Rugby campaign against the Western Force at Allianz Stadium on February 23.
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