You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Young Waratahs to learn from Highlanders

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017 Adrian Warren

NSW Waratahs captain Michael Hooper is convinced his team's young guns will reap the benefits of a torrid initiation to top-flight rugby.

The Waratahs trailed by 22 points in both halves of Thursday night's trial against the Highlanders at Sydney's Brookvale Oval.

A Highlanders starting side boasting eight All Blacks piled on six tries in the first 50 minutes of the game won 50-47 by the visitors.

Most of those Test players were withdrawn at halftime and the Tahs profited from that and the impact of several of their own substitutes to score 29 unanswered points to take the lead.

Hooper's back-up Brad Wilkin and lock Ned Hanigan, both 21, were among the youngsters praised by Tahs coach Daryl Gibson.

"Guys that probably no one has heard of here putting up their hand and making a difference, so ( I was) impressed with that," Hooper said

The Highlanders scored the last 10 points to win a game in which they scored seven tries to six.

Hooper had no doubt the Tahs rookies - including starting backs Jake Gordon, Irae Simon and Harry Jones, who all had their first taste of top-flight competition - would profit from the experience.

"They will get a hell of lot off the pace, that was a Super Rugby-pace game, playing against some bigger lights," Hooper said.

Hooper admitted slow starts, especially against New Zealand teams, was something the Tahs needed to make a big improvement in for their round-one Super Rugby clash with the Force at home later this month.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon