Yesterday at 4:37 PM Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

The strong tip that Lachie Swinton and Carlo Tizzano would both feature for the Waratahs in 2020 came from how much slow dancing they did over summer.

With each other.

As with many clubs, the Waratahs have a rule that any training dust-up is buried after the session by both players doing something resembling the waltz inside a huge team huddle.

Swinton and Tizzano were in the middle often, having been picked apart in some feisty scrap earlier.
Indeed, those who saw the pair train over summer came away thinking there really should be a warning about putting the combustible pair in close proximity.

Like petrol and, say, a naked flame.

"We had an internal trial and it was lucky they were on the same team,” Waratahs halfback Jake Gordon said.

"I think the coaches did it on purpose. It would have been dangerous.”

It must be said that Swinton and Tizzano have no particular beef with the other.

The young Waratahs backrowers, who will both play against the Crusaders on Saturday in Nelson, are simply peas from the same ultra-competitive pod, with not a lot of regard for their own safety and precisely none for their rival.

Swinton, 22, emerged for the Waratahs last year and quickly made a name for himself with shuddering tackles and full-bore carries.

Based on an impressive off-season that has him in top shape, and some eye-popping hits in the trials, Swinton was chosen by Waratahs coach Rob Penney to start at no.6 against the defending champions.

Wallabies backrower Jack Dempsey will start on the bench.

"I have been lucky enough to play with Lachie (at Sydney Uni) since he was 19 and to be honest I have never seen anyone at the age of 19 dominate like first grade like he did,” Gordon said.

"He looks the part, look at his head, it is a bit mangled, but he actually plays the part too and he is a great inclusion for our team.

"I think having someone who is so ruthless like him, and can have presence on that field as far as defence goes, and that’s something we need. He definitely fills that void.

"He is a guy you want on your team.”

Gordon, who also lives with Swinton, said he’d only had the misfortune of playing against Swinton once.

"He slapped me across the face halfway through the game, and I was waving to the sideline to get me off,” Gordon said.

"I am expecting a big year from Lachie, there is no-one who trains harder than him. He eats about ten meals a day and I am expecting big things form him.

"We forget he is only 22 and the way I have seen him develop his game … he always had the crazy, mad aspect to his game but if you watch him now, he has really interplay in his game, tips, triggers, great in the lineiut, gets off the ground quick.

And his athleticism, he is super fit.

"He is ticking all boxes and will only get better and better with time.”

Tizzano, says Gordon, is built in the same mad-in-a-good-way shape as Swinton.

The 19-year-old will make his Super Rugby debut off the bench in Nelson, having arrived at the Waratahs late from Western
Australia last year with a building profile.

The nuggety flanker starred on the Australian Schoolboys and under 18s tour of Scotland and Ireland in 2018, and was a part of the Junior Wallabies team that came so close to winning a world title in 2019.

Tizzano, who remarkably won the player of the year in senior WA Club rugby when aged 17, also played for the Western Force in Rapid Rugby and the NRC.

The Waratahs managed to lure Tizzano east and his form and no-backward-step attitude over summer was irresistible to coach Penney for round one.

“He’s a lot like Lachie. Younger but he’s a strong guy, strong over the ball and ruthless in contact. And really fit as well,” Gordon said.

"That interplay that Lachie has formed over the year, it’ll be exactly the same with Carlo. He has huge potential.”

Gordon should know a bit about both, says forwards coach Matt Cockbain.

The halfback started one of the better training flare-ups between Swinton and Tizzano, when he was clattered off the ball by the latter.

"It was a 15-on-15 and it got close to the line and the contact level started to ramp up a bit,” Cockbain said.

"Jake Gordon was in the instigator, he was the match that lit the fire, there was a bit of argy-bargy and of course Lachie is in there. There was a bit of red mist going.

“No punches or anything, it was all good fun. They got over it and had a dance later.”

Needless to say, such scenes look like fine art in the eyes of a forward coach. Cockbain says he is very happy to have players with the natural aggression levels of Swinton and Tizzano in his pack.

“It warms the heart. That’s good, competitive footy, no harm done,” Cockbain said.

"If we don’t do our job as a pack, we are no chance of winning and we have to make sure we are hard, we are tough and we are aggressive. We want that mentality in our forwards.

“'Swinno' has been really impressive over the summer. I am really looking forward to what he can produce this year,” Cockbain said.

“Carlo, same thing. Really impressive young guy, he has a huge future. Big things ahead for both of those blokes."