Playing for keeps
DANIEL HALANGAHU gets first shot at the Waratahs No 10 jersey when the ’Tahs and Queensland Reds clash in their first Super 14 trial in Lismore tonight.
And the 25-year-old leader is playing for keeps.
With off-season recruit Berrick Barnes and the mercurial Kurtley Beale breathing down his neck, acting Waratahs captain Halangahu knows every play is vital in his quest to retain his preferred position.
But the sound rugby student won’t be overplaying his hand; he sees his own fortunes resting with the destructive Waratahs backline which he hopes to unleash.
Standing outside him tonight will be a mountain of talent including the 125kg Nemani Nadolo, one-time All-Black Sosene Anesi, rising star Peter Betham and the brute strength of Tom Carter.
“My job is to get the team going and with those blokes outside me the job is half done,” Halangahu said.
“If I can put them into space then I think everyone will be happy.
“Well, everyone bar the Reds backs who have to try and tackle them.”
With a glut of talented backs in the squad, the majority of the ’Tahs will be playing for their spot tonight and Halangahu thinks they can work together to impress.
“Anesi and Carter also have a lot of competition for their position, so we can work as a team to put some runs on the board,” he said.
“It’s all about combinations, so if we can play well together than hopefully we can convince the coaches to leave us there.”
NSW have struggled to find a dominant dynamic 10 for more than a decade now, but having three to pick from should ensure the chosen one plays out of his skin week-in week-out.
For Halangahu, that starts tonight.
“I need to show that I give the team control,” he said
“If I can get the forwards on the front foot and give our backs plenty of time with the ball then I will get a big tick.
“I have got everything I need in this team; I just need to play facilitator.”
A long off-season after his best Super 14 season has got the reliable fly-half keen as ever to put words into action on the field.
A translation he knows doesn’t always come easy with the gathering of so much talent.
“We have had a great pre-season, and our combinations are sharp,” he said.
“But all that counts for nothing once we step on the park, we have to get the job done and show we are worthy of keeping our jerseys.”
Halangahu knows the talent that beckons with Barnes and Beale behind him, but he won’t be stepping aside for anyone – not even the Wallabies vice-captain.
“Fly-half is where I have always played, and fly-half is where I want to stay.”
Tickets for the match are still available at the gate.
The match begins at 7:30pm.