Cook Islander Tepai Moeroa has been named on the Waratahs bench for a probable Super Rugby debut tonight.
The Australian club will host the Blues in round two of the competition after going down to defending champions Crusaders 25-43 last week.
Waratahs coach Rob Penney named the former NRL star in the reserves as a backup to his solid but young backline.
Coach Penney, who is eager to see how the utility back fares in the competition, said the time was right to put Morea to Super Rugby test.
“He covers the midfield really and probably more so 12, than 13, but he can cover both,” Penney told Rugby.com.au.
“It’s early days for him but he is a big strong man and he has a good skillset, and his game understanding is what has really grown over the last month, and we think the time is right now to see if it’s grown to a good enough level to contribute positively.
“We think he will. And if we’re right we have another great bit of talent and depth in that midfield position that will be very strong for us.”
Moeroa earlier said he’s not fazed about the prospect of playing no.13 if required; despite it being a spot that requires athleticism and speed, in both attack and defence.
“I am actually trimming down, so yeah, getting there,” Moeroa told Rugby.com.au.
“Less weight and hopefully I can get around the field a little quicker. It’s too different (between league and union). Defending in the back row (in league) is similar to defending in the centres (in rugby) so it’s not too bad.
“We talked about playing in the centres, no.12 or no.13. I have been training out there. But you never know what happens … I might get pushed into flanker one game and we’ll see what happens.”
The 24-year-old Moeroa, who made his Cook Islands debut at the Rugby League World Cup qualifiers and World Nines last year, played 112 matches for the Eels from 2014-2019.
In July last year, he announced that he would be switching from rugby league to the 15-man game after signing a two year deal with the Waratahs, starting in 2020.
- Additional reporting by Rugby.com.au