Michael Cheika has backed 22-year-old newcomer Ben Volavola to unleash an exciting NSW backline against the star-studded Crusaders.
The uncapped Southern Districts flyhalf will line up against Dan Carter tonight in the HSBC Waratahs' first home match of the new season and the final trial before the Super Rugby season begins. The game shaping up to be a brutal trans-Tasman encounter pitting 12 Wallabies against 10 All Blacks but the head coach says he had no doubts about starting the youngster.
"You don't get experience if you don't play," said Cheika.
"I am more than happy with him playing. It's very exciting for Ben to go up against Dan Carter. He is a very natural, instinctive player and although he's only very young and a few months into the program as a professional player, the way he has responded has been surprisingly good.
"It will be up to the rest of the team to make sure he challenges one of the best players in the world and take him on. It won't be up to Ben, he'll just play naturally."
Volavola will have plenty of experience around him to rely on. The job of neutralising potent centre Robbie Fruean will fall to Adam Ashley-Cooper, who will wear the No. 13 jersey, whilst fellow Wallaby Lachie Turner and speedster Tom Kingston, who notched up a hat-trick last weekend, will play on the wings. In his third rugby union match, Israel Folau faces his toughest challenge yet as he lines up against All Blacks fullback, Israel Dagg.
Up front, the NSW squad features six internationals, lead by debutant captain Dave Dennis. Behind the all-Wallaby front row of Robinson, Polota-Nau and Kepu, recent signing Mitchell Chapman will make his first appearance for NSW as he packs down alongside Sita Timani.