The NSW Waratahs have locked in their 2020 Super Rugby pre-season fixtures, facing the Highlanders at Leichhardt Oval on Friday 17 January and the Reds in rural Queensland on Friday 24 January.
Both pre-season fixtures loom as vital for Rob Penney’s side, as they prepare for an unusually early start to the season proper on Saturday 1 February against the Crusaders.
The clash with the Highlanders will see top-flight rugby played in Sydney’s inner-west at one of the city’s most iconic suburban venues.
It also sees the continuation of a pre-season tradition dating back to 2014, as both sides face off for the Sir Henry Braddon Cup – currently held by the Highlanders.
Having played in the first ever All Blacks team in 1884, Braddon also went on to play for New South Wales from 1888-1892.
He was captain of New South Wales in 1892 and following his playing career, served as NSW Rugby Union President.
A revered figure in both New South Wales and Otago rugby history, the Cup honours his early contribution to the game on both sides of the Tasman.
The NSW Waratahs second pre-season hit out – announced last month – will be on the road to the Reds, as they head to Country Queensland a week out from their season opener against the Crusaders.
The clash in Dalby will be the first in regional Queensland in more than 10 years, as the Tahs get an early look at their interstate rivals.
NSW Waratahs Assistant, Chris Whitaker said that with only two trial matches both would be important, as a new look squad comes together for the season ahead.
“This will be the first chance that Rob [Penney] will get to see the boys in action after some time spent together in pre-season, and the players will get a chance to put their best foot forward [ahead of Round 1],” Whitaker said.
“With the changeover in the squad [post RWC 2019] there’s good opportunity for a lot of young guys coming through with plenty of positions up for grabs.
“Leichhardt is a sensational ground to play at, it’s one of those old suburban grounds where everyone is close to the action so it makes for great viewing.
“Generally, there’s a lot of ball movement [against the Highlanders], I think both teams want to play with the ball and use it as a good preparation for the Super Rugby season.”
Tickets to the NSW Waratahs pre-season clash with the Highlanders will be available to purchase in late-December.