Tahs turn to League for defence coach
Former Kangaroos and Origin Rugby League player Phil Bailey has joined the NSW Waratahs coaching staff with plans to bring more aggression and dominance to the Super Rugby team’s defence.
Bailey, who has taken on the responsibility for the defence less than three weeks before the Tahs opening game of the season, replaces Steve Tandy.
The 39-year-old Bailey watched the Waratahs’ internal trial on Saturday and had his first formal session with the squad on Wednesday.
NSW play the Highlanders in a pre-season game on Friday and have another against Queensland next week, before starting their Super campaign on February 1.
“We’ve been really lucky because a lot of really good stuff already been laid down the last year and into this pre-season as well, so it is more me getting up to speed with what they’ve already got embedded and just adding my little bits and touches as well,” Bailey said.
“There’s a lot of good stuff that’s already been implemented and there are some things that we want to bolt onto that moving forward in this 2020 season.
“We just want to put a little bit more focus on the individual tackle technique, and different styles of tackles as well too.
“We’re looking for more dominant tackles this year, being more of an aggressive Waratahs side.”
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Bailey has an impressive network of contacts and mentors including former Wallabies coaches Michael Cheika and Eddie Jones.
It was Cheika, who stood down from the Wallabies’ coaching post after their quarterfinal elimination at last year’s World Cup, who tipped Bailey off to a potential opportunity with the Waratahs.
Tandy left NSW to take up the Scotland defence job vacated by Australian Matt Taylor, who has taken on a Wallabies post.
Former Manly, Northern Eagles, Cronulla and Wigan centre/back-rower Bailey has held a number of league and union coaching posts since the end of his playing career.
He was part of the United States’ 2015 Rugby World Cup management team and was a head coach in Hong Kong for two seasons.
Most recently he worked within the NSW Rugby League’s development pathway.
Unlike during his playing days, the head is now a no-go area for tackling.
“That’s where my skill-set comes in as well, around technique,” Bailey said.
“Those days are gone, no one is going back to the past, so the head is out of it completely.”