Tahs take another double hit as restart looms
TRANSFER NEWS: The Waratahs suffered two more body blows, just a week out from the start of Super Rugby AU.
The Tahs can confirm that Rory O’Connor and Siosifa Lisala will not be returning for the new domestic competition – commencing this coming Friday.
This follows in the same week that Wallaby utility back Kurtley Beale left the team – the most high-profile of the recent departures.
Experienced hooker and RUPA President Damien Fitzpatrick also called time on his career a fortnight ago.
In a slightly more complicated situation, it’s unlikely flyhalf Mack Mason will turn out for the Waratahs again in 2020.
The flyhalf has returned to Queensland and though he is still a contracted member of the squad, NSW has given its blessing for him to stay home and not train with the squad.
In the coaching realm, defence coach Phil Bailey was let go as part of cost-cutting measures.
This means it will be a much-changed Waratahs set-up in the build-up to the start of Super Rugby AU this week.
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O’Connor – who appeared 11 times for New South Wales – made the decision during the COVID-19 shutdown to focus on his studies and career, as he approaches the completion of a Civil Engineering Degree.
Signed at the beginning of 2018 after starring for the Warringah Rats in the Shute Shield, O’Connor earnt his chance at Super Rugby level after a stint in the Munster Academy and time spent in the National Rugby Championship.
O’Connor is set to play with Warringah in the 2020 Shute Shield competition.
“To join the NSW Waratahs and get the opportunity to play Super Rugby has been one of my proudest achievements,” O’Connor said.
“The [COVID-19] shutdown gave me plenty of time to consider my future, as much as I love being a part of this team and being a Waratah, it was time to focus my energy on my studies and my career.
“I’ve had such great support from the coaching staff and my teammates throughout my time here – I can’t thank them enough for that.”
Lisala joined the NSW Waratahs in January ahead of the Super Rugby season, but with the impacts of COVID-19 has returned home to Japan.
An accomplished international Sevens player, Lisala made one appearance off the bench for the NSW Waratahs after working his way back from a hand injury, before the season was postponed.
Waratahs coach, Rob Penney wished both players the best with the next chapter in their careers.
“Unfortunately, the shutdown has created difficult situations for individuals right across our organisation,” Penney said.
“Sifa was only new to the squad and was making great progress on his return from injury, but being in a new country with a young family [during the shutdown] the best option for him was to return to Japan.
“Rory had been involved in the NSW Waratahs for some time and is a great example of how the Shute Shield can be a pathway for those who strive to be involved in Super Rugby.
“Both were great professionals and contributors to our group and we wish them well in the future.”