Sydney Uni star Jake Gordon will get a chance to play his way into the Waratahs No.9 jersey for this season tomorrow night after being named in the starting side for the Tahs final trial match against the Highlanders at Brookvale Oval.
Gordon was brilliant in last year's Shute Shield and NRC and has continued to impress the Waratahs coaching staff throughout the pre-season.
Assistant coach Nathan Grey said tomorrow's match was a genuine selection trial in a number of positions.
“There's three nines in the program at the moment that are all training and performing in a way that is making the decisions difficult for Daryl,” Grey told rugby.com.au.
“Clearly, Nick Phipps is someone who's been around for a while and from a playing perspective at that highest level, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what Nick can do and what his skill set is and Jake's a bit of a different story.
“So, him and Matty Lucas will be getting time and they're pushing really hard.”
2016 Shute Shield rookie of the year Irae Simone will also start for the Waratahs and partner Israel Folau in the midfield with Warringah flyer Harry Jones named on the wing.
“He's (Simone) been impressive and he does a lot of the fundamental things really well, which is really pleasing to see,” Grey said.
“He's a good ball carrier, decent defender and he kicks goals as well, so that's something else that's good."
In the forwards, Tom Robertson will start at loosehead prop, while Michael Wells will play at No.8, with Jed Holloway likely out until round two with an ankle injury.
Tolu Latu has won the battle for the hooker spot, with Damian Fitzpatrick battling a niggle and Hugh Roach on the bench.
Rob Horne (shoulder), Cam Clark (ankle), Holloway (hamstring) and Angus Ta’avao are all injured, with Clark potentially available for round one.
The Waratahs take on the Highlanders at 6:30pm on Thursday night.
Waratahs team to play trial against Highlanders
Tom Robertson, Tolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (C), Michael Wells, Jake Gordon, Bernard Foley, Harry Jones, Irae Simone, Israel Folau, Reece Robinson, Andrew Kellaway. Reserves: Hugh Roach, Paddy Ryan, David Lolohea, Sam Needs, David McDuling, Nick Phipps, Matt Lucas, David Horwitz, Senio Toleafoa, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ned Hanigan, Brad Wilkin, Maclean Jones, Con Foley, Bryce Hegarty, Andrew Deegan/Mack Mason.