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Waratahs name Foley, Beale as twin playmakers
ESPN Staff
February 18, 2014
Bernard Foley will wear the No.10 jumper against Western Force © AJF Photography

Greg Growden's team-by-team preview

© SANZAR (Image Supplied)

New South Wales Waratahs have named Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale as twin playmakers for their Super Rugby season-opener against Western Force at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Sunday.

Foley will wear the No.10 jumper, to provide the shape and direction Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is seeking, with Beale starting at inside centre to provide "X-factor".

"They've both had some good touches in the trials and have enjoyed playing alongside each other.," Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said in naming his side. "It may take a little longer for them to jell but I'll give them the time. It's going to take a little longer to blend, as most partnerships do in the midfield. But I am prepared to give that time because they're both good players and both fill roles that are important to the team. They're both running players. They can both fill a role where they can attack the defensive line."

Oustide the twin playmakers, Israel Folau will chime in from fullback having made the No.15 jumper his own last year, while quick-stepping Alofa Alofa will make his debut on the right wing.

Beale will often sit out the back in defence alongside Folau, with an instruction to run and use his attacking instincts.

"If I can have Kurtley and Israel in the back counter-attacking, I like that," Cheika said. "I like Foley back there as well. And we have our wings, who are pace men getting back to support that counter-attack. I want [Beale] to float around, come in when he feel likes he can play first receiver, run when he thinks he can play wide, build combinations not just with Foley but Ashley-Cooper and with Folau. Make things happen."

Up front, Cheika has named an all-Wallabies front-row of Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota Nau and Paddy Ryan, who edged out Sekope Kepu. Cheika said of his decision that "both have their pluses and there is very little between them, but Paddy has had a little bit more aggression and grunt in the trials".

Cheika, meanwhile, named Will Skelton over South African import Jacques Potgieter to partner Kane Douglas in the second-row, saying the 21-year-old had "done enough to warrant an opportunity". Potgieter will cover the second-row and blindside flank from the bench.

"Potgieter could have played, but Skelton has done enough to warrant an opportunity," Cheika said. "He has grown from last season and his eagerness to get better as a footballer [has been impressive]."

Waratahs: Israel Folau; Alofa Alofa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Peter Betham; Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis; Kane Douglas, Will Skelton; Paddy Ryan, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Tola Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Sekope Kepu, Jacques Potgieter, Stephen Hoiles/Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Rob Horne, Matt Carraro/Cam Crawford.

The top ESPNfootytips Super Rugby tipster at the end of the home and away season wins $A2000, with the runner-up claiming $A1000. We also have a pair of Gold Class movie tickets for each weekly winner.

Best of all you and a mate could be heading off to Game II of the Bledisloe Cup series between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Auckland. The prize includes flight, accommodation, transfers and match tickets. Simply enter your tips WEEKLY to make another entry in the competition.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with AAP

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