Sandy McEachern into Waratahs side at 44

LONG TERM COMEBACK: Sandy McEachern is back in the Waratahs first grade team 15 years after his last appearance. Picture: Courtney Rees
LONG TERM COMEBACK: Sandy McEachern is back in the Waratahs first grade team 15 years after his last appearance. Picture: Courtney Rees

Waratahs have given Sandy McEachern as second chance at first grade after more than a decade in the wilderness.

McEachern has been called up to tackle Griffith 15 years after he last played in the top grade.

The 44-year-old was surprised to receive the call up to replace the unavailable Jake Eaglesham in the number eight jersey on Saturday.

“They are a pretty good team so they can afford to carry a passenger,” McEachern joked.

But in all seriousness he’s looking forward to playing his role in the red hot side.

“There are plenty of good of players at Waratahs at the moment so it is nice to get called up when there are plenty of good second graders,” he said.

“My goal is to obviously get through the game and contribute in whatever role I’m given on the day.

“I recognise there are people away and people injured and that is why I am there, but my goal is just to make sure I don’t let anyone down and get the job done.”

McEachern played first grade with Waratahs in 2003 before injuries, work and family commitments saw him give away the game.

However the chance to get fitter saw him return to the club this season.

“The discipline of training twice a week and playing on Saturday for a team where they expect you to show up is why I did it,” McEachern said.

He’s been a strong contributor to their second grade and has also been used as a substitute for first grade, including last week in the 54-33 win over premiers Leeton.

Coach Richard Skellern wants to reward people for their efforts and therefore called him in to replace the star Scot.

Waratahs are yet to lose this season, but Skellern believes their disappointing second half against Leeton shows there is plenty of room for improvement.

They led 40-7 at half-time before the Phantoms got back to 40-33.

He’s looking for that to change against the Blacks at the Exies Oval.

“After reviewing the videos to be honest I don’t know how either side could score a try last week,” Skellern said.

“It was absolutely appalling.

“There is a lot of work to be done and we are very wary of who is out there and what they can do.

“We just have to hold our discipline and keep our cool.

“That is something we didn’t do on Saturday and let Leeton back into the game.”

McEachern is the only change to the side from the one who inflicted Leeton’s first loss since 2016.

Griffith are coming off a 48-7 loss to Tumut but pushed the Phantoms the week before.

Skellern expects they will be stronger at home and expects coach Craig Morriss to have his team prepared for the challenge of the undefeated Wagga side.

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