Ned Hanigan return to NSW Waratahs for Super Rugby Pacific

The Waratahs have been boosted by the return of Wallabies Ned Hanigan and Paddy Ryan as they try to defy the odds and secure a top four finish and home advantage for the Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinals.

Hanigan, 27, and Ryan, 33, joined the team this week after their seasons in Japan came to a conclusion and have made an instant impact, according to their new teammates.

The inclusion of the pair continues a clear strategy by Tahs coach Darren Coleman to lean into experience, something that has paid dividends in wiping the bitter memory of last season’s dire performances by a raw squad.

Prop Angus Bell hailed the impact of Jed Holloway and Michael Hooper so far this season and expected Hanigan, who still harbors Wallabies ambitions, and Ryan, who has played more than 100 times for the Tahs, to reinforce the experience levels as the team faces the prospects of a finals push.

“They have such a huge impact not only to the boys on the field but also off. They bring that calm head,” Bell told reporters on Tuesday.

“Jed and Hoops have been awesome for us this season. Jed has been killing it all year.

“It adds to the standard at training. As soon as they came in they had an immediate impact – you could just feel the competition within the squad and the intensity just lifts again.

“It’s been a positive and those two blokes [Hanigan and Ryan] are awesome. [Ryan] has helped me a lot in the scrum space and I’ve played a lot with Ned with the Wallabies and Tahs.

Ned Hanigan of the Wallabies makes a break

Ned Hanigan. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

“He’s a great bloke and also a hard worker. It’s great having them both in the squad.”

Tahs center Lalakai Foketi said Hanigan’s upbeat personality was a plus as tensions rise along with expectations.

“You can hear him before you can see him. He’s always got a smile on his face and he’s always the one trying to lift the boys up and have a laugh but also work hard,” Foketi said.

“And Paddy, he brings a wealth of experience. He’s kind of like Hoops, an older head and the boys want to perform when he’s around and show him what we can do.

“It’s great that they’re back. I was saying to the boys before that they want to come back and try slot into this team because we’re playing really well and there are so many people asking for spots. It’s great and I can’t wait to see what they can bring to the team.”

The Tahs return to Leichhardt on Saturday night two weeks after their impressive victory over the Crusaders, having kept momentum ticking over with a defeat of Moana Pasifika.

The Hurricanes were beaten by the Brumbies before thrashing Fijian Drua.

“We know they can score points from all over the field,” said Foketi.

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