Flyhalf Bernard Foley will captain the NSW Waratahs in a top of the table Vodafone Super Rugby derby against Australian Conference rivals the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.
Foley takes over the captaincy from the injured Michael Hooper.
28-year-old Foley is familiar with a leadership role as vice-captain of the NSW Waratahs this year and also as a former Australian Sevens captain.
“It’s a great opportunity for Bernard to grow as a leader,” said NSW Waratahs Coach Daryl Gibson.
Foley will lead a side that shows two changes to the starting line-up that took to the field against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane at the end of May before the Super Rugby competition took a break for the June internationals.
Ned Hanigan returns from injury and will start at blindside flanker with Will Miller replacing Hooper at No 7.
On the bench, tighthead prop Paddy Ryan replaces Shambeckler Vui and Alex Newsome comes in for Lalakai Foketi, who is recovering from a lower leg injury that surfaced in the tour match against Japanese Top League side the NEC Green Rockets two weeks ago.
Gibson has named Israel Folau at fullback, pending the outcome of the player’s judicial hearing, which is scheduled for 1500 (AEST) in Sydney today.
The NSW Waratahs return to Allianz Stadium in round 18 of the Vodafone Super Rugby to take on the Sunwolves on Saturday 7 July at 7:40pm (AEST). To secure your seat, head to www.nswwaratahs.com.au/tickets.
Number denotes number of Super Rugby caps for the NSW Waratahs
1. Tom Robertson (40)
2. Damien Fitzpatrick (44)
3. Sekope Kepu (120)
4. Jed Holloway (36)
5. Rob Simmons (Vice-captain, 11)
6. Ned Hanigan (25)
7. Will Miller (12)
8. Michael Wells (28)
9. Nick Phipps (69)
10. Bernard Foley (Captain, 100)
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (45)
12. Kurtley Beale (123)
13. Curtis Rona (13)
14. Cam Clark (19)
15. Israel Folau (85)
16. Tolu Latu (48)
17. Harry Johnson-Holmes (13)
18. Paddy Ryan (101)
19. Tom Staniforth (13)
20. Brad Wilkin (2)
21. Jake Gordon (24)
22. Bryce Hegarty (26)
23. Alex Newsome (8)