Waratahs suffer Hanigan blow, Perese boost as they build for Brumbies opener

The NSW Waratahs are expected to be without Wallaby Ned Hanigan for their opening-round clash with the ACT Brumbies on February 24.Hanigan suffered a knee injury during Saturday's narrow win over the Queensland Reds in Narrabri, with assistant coach Chris Whitaker confirming he will likely miss the Super Rugby Pacific opener."Ned picked up a bit of a knee injury, he'll be missing for a few weeks," he told reporters.Hanigan's injury is offset by news Izaia Perese has overcome a knee injury that ruled out him for the majority of the Test season.Perese picked up the season-ending knock during the second Test against England and was slated to play last week against the Reds, only for the Waratahs to take a precautionary step due to quad tightness.He will likely get the chance to run out during Saturday's final trial at Concord Oval, where they will play West Harbour and Western Sydney Two Blues, potentially joined by winger Dylan Pietsch after his quad injury wasn't as bad as first feared."The goal is to arrive at the first game against the Brumbies in the best condition possible," Whitaker notes."That's the balance between giving guys enough game time that they are ready to go but also making them fresh enough."Someone like Izzy Perese, who didn't play last week and hasn't had a game, Dylan Pietsch who got injured in the first five minutes (against the Brumbies), whether they need game time or not. I think guys who played up to 60 minutes last week won't appear (on Saturday) because I think we consider that enough match fitness to be ready for that first game."The spirit around the club is high after their win over the Reds, particularly after the $70,000 bonus they received from Santos after the women's ensured the clean sweep.However, Darren Coleman's side knows they need to back it up in the regular season for it to mean anything.The Waratahs have come away victors in every 'Festival of Rugby' trial encounter, however, have not beaten their Queensland counterparts in Super Rugby action since 2020."With the footy, they are a dangerous team," Whitaker added. Their style is probably a lot more to the Fijians than the Brumbies…their offloading skills on the weekend were exceptional.""We need to try and limit their opportunities. With the ball, we need to be disciplined because you can't give them any turnovers because they are so lethal there and they make you pay."We've struggled against them during the season but I think this year is a different year and the boys will be confident going in."Click Here: manly sea eagles rugby store