Waratahs to ramp up physicality for SA teams
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: After successfully emerging from a taxing week, the Waratahs are preparing to ramp up their physicality for three successive Super Rugby tussles with South African opposition.
Last Saturday’s narrow win over Melbourne has brought to within four points of the conference-leading Rebels, who have a bye this week.
A win on Saturday over the Sharks in the Tahs’ first home game at the new Bankwest Stadium will put them at least level, if not ahead, of Melbourne.
The Rebels triumph was achieved without Israel Folau, with the Tahs in the eye of the media storm throughout the week due to ongoing developments triggered by the Wallabies fullback’s latest social media posts.
“It was mentally taxing but once we brushed off that stuff, after the game we felt great,” Waratahs lock Jed Holloway, who notched his 50th appearance in the game, said.
Following the Sharks game, travel to South Africa for matches against the Bulls in Pretoria and the Lions in Johannesburg.
“Definitely a test that’s coming, but it’s not one that we’re going to shy away from. I’m sure the physicality is going to be up at training over the next couple of weeks but we’re ready for it,” Holloway said.
The Tahs are expecting a strong response from a Sharks side who have slipped from first to third in the South African conference after successive home losses to the Jaguares and Queensland Reds.
Wallabies hooker Tolu Lato will be available after serving a six-week suspension and is in fine fettle, according to Holloway.
“He’s actually looking the best I’ve seen him look,” Holloway said.
“Physically I think he’s at the best weight he’s played at since I’ve played with him, and his skin folds are at the best as well.”
Defence coach Steve Tandy stressed the importance of the Waratahs staying disciplined against the Sharks.
“I think it’s really focusing on not giving cheap penalties away because you look at the Sharks, they will [turn] down three [points from a penalty] so they will kick to the corner and want to keep you there,” Tandy said.
“It’s really important we are disciplined because ultimately you know these are huge men and are going to come at you.
“As much as you trust your defence system, you don’t want to be defending for large periods at the wrong end of the field.”