‘I was disappointed’: Edmed keen on a duel with Barrett after Mo’unga miss

The disappointment in the Waratahs’ shed after losing narrowly to the Hurricanes in their last start at Leichhardt Oval said a lot about how far the team has progressed from one that lost every game of 2021, according to five-eighth Tane Edmed.

Last year we didn’t win a game and now we’re getting disappointed about losing to some top-quality teams by less than five [points], Edmed said.

That shows how far we’ve come and we definitely want to send it off on a high. We don’t fold against this Blues team.

There are, in fact, now more pointers to the Waratahs’ radical transformation from 2021 than there are fingers to count them on. Among the more impressive are the Waratahs slashing their points-conceded average from 42 points to 22 inside a year, maintaining a 60 per cent win record against Aussie and Kiwi-based teams and winning in New Zealand twice for the first time since 2009 (albeit once against Moana Pasifika).

If the Waratahs beat the Blues at Leichhardt on Saturday night, it will be the first time since 2015 that a NSW team has beaten three New Zealand teams in a season.

Also among the signs of transformation is the fact Edmed, aged 21 and in his first year as a starter, is hoping the Blues don’t pull the same card the Crusaders did a month ago by resting All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga. Edmed is keen for his idol Beauden Barrett to not only play, but line up across from him at No. 10.

I was disappointed when Richie wasn’t playing, Edmed said. It was good for our team and I understand that, but it would have been really cool to run against one of the best five-eighths in the world.

I’ve always looked up to Beauden Barrett when I’ve been coming through and it would be so awesome if I could come up against him. He’s one of the best in the world, so it would be a really cool experience, especially at Leichhardt. Hopefully, I see him on that team sheet.

The Waratahs named a settled team on Wednesday, with Jed Holloway, Charlie Gamble, Angus Bell and Archer Holz returning to the starting side, and Ned Hanigan winning promotion to starting lock.

The Blues name their team at lunchtime on Thursday and are expected to rest players, given they can’t lose top spot on the ladder. After nailing a match-winning drop goal against the Brumbies last week, Barrett is set to stay at No. 10, the position where he won two World Player of the Year awards for the All Blacks.

That would put him alongside Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and put Edmed’s defence under plenty of heat. RTS is also a favourite of league-loving Edmed, but he’s trying to not let the star power dazzle him.

I’ve been working with Gilly this week making sure my feet and tracking is all good and keeping in mind he’s a human as well . . . not to read into it too much but just to be aware of his feet and his strong ball carrying, Edmed said. We’ve been working hard on that this week.

In their final game at Leichhardt Oval before moving back to Allianz Stadium next year, the Waratahs say they’re hoping to repay their fans for the Hurricanes loss by toppling the in-form Blues.

It is, again, a bold statement that not so long ago would have generated stifled laughs. But the Darren Coleman-coached Waratahs say that ever-expanding list of achievements this season has given them a huge amount of confidence in taking on the Kiwi teams.

Every Kiwi side we have come up against, we have actually been quite competitive in most patches of the game, flanker Charlie Gamble said. Obviously against the Chiefs we got down to 13 men and it didn’t really help us, but we showed glimpses there where we came back and got within three points.

Beating the Crusaders at home and obviously the emotion the boys showed in that win, unfortunately we only played 50 to 60 minutes against the Canes and just couldn’t close it out.

And then to go to Dunedin – I thought it was the best we have played all year – to go down there and win in New Zealand. Yeah, massive confidence [builder]. We are quietly confident in our ability.

WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Archer Holz, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Charlie Gamble, Michael Hooper, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Alex Newsome, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Ben Donaldson

RESERVES: Mahe Vailanu, Tetera Faulkner, Paddy Ryan, Hugh Sinclair, Jeremy Williams, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Jack Grant, Jamie Roberts

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