After some impressive performances in the Shute Shield, the NSW Waratahs have selected James Turner to make his Super Rugby debut at one of the most famous rugby grounds in the world, Eden Park, this weekend against the Blues.
Many outside of Sydney clubland wouldn’t be too familiar with Turner, but after his breakout season for the West Harbour Pirates in 2020 finishing the season as the competitions leading try scorer, people have started to take notice.
Turner left the Pirates for Northern Suburbs in 2021 and has continued his eye-catching performances for the Shoremen this season, including a man of the match performance against Eastwood last weekend.
The try-scoring winger’s form earned a contract with the Waratahs two weeks ago, and Turner has been just as impressive on the training park as he has been for on the pitch for Norths.
NSW Waratahs Co-Coach Chris Whitaker has always had huge respect for the Shute Shield and from the moment he took the reins of the side alongside Jason Gilmore, he wanted to bring that connection back from club sides to the Waratahs.
Whitaker’s message was clear, the Waratahs are a state side that represents all the teams within NSW and if you play well for your Shute Shield side, higher honours will follow.
“The Shute Shield is where the majority of our team comes from and is a vital pathway to the Waratahs,” Whitaker said.
“We take a lot of notice of the guys performing in Shute Shield, and if you perform there you deserve a chance to get a crack at the Waratahs.
“James has been performing really well for the past 18 months in the Shute Shield and thoroughly deserves his place in the side. He’s a natural finisher and has slotted in well at training and I’m looking forward to what he can do on the weekend against the Blues”.
Eden Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Waratahs with the last win at the venue dating back to 2009. Despite the poor recent record, the Waratahs rookie winger was looking forward to the challenge of making his debut at New Zealand rugby’s spiritual home.
“I’m really excited the last few week have been like a dream for me, growing up in Sydney my whole life you always want to play for the Waratahs,” Turner said.
“The boys have been really good, really welcoming and I can’t wait to play at one of the most famous grounds in rugby.
“It’s going to be a bit of a shock going from North Sydney Oval to Eden Park but I’m keen for the experience”.