Wobbly Waratahs ready to hit panic button?
Interim co-coach Chris Whitaker says the NSW Waratahs need a cultural overhaul after their season from hell plumbed new depths on Friday.
Winless in eight Super Rugby AU games, the Waratahs opened their Trans-Tasman campaign with a 48-64 loss to the Hurricanes in Sydney.
Whitaker was dismayed the Tahs could put almost 50 points on the Hurricanes yet still finish empty-handed.
“There were just too many soft tries. It’s just not acceptable. There were three or four tries where individuals need to put their hand up and say that’s not good enough.”
The cricket-score defeat at the SCG featured 17 tries in total, one less than the most in any Super Rugby game in history – when the Chiefs edged the Lions 72-65 in a staggering contest in Johannesburg 11 years ago.
“The sad thing is there was some good footy out there. Both sides played some good footy and unfortunately the fact that they scored 60-odd points is going to overshadow that we scored 48,” said Whitaker, who was especially gutted for his halfback and captain Jake Gordon.
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“When Jake had the ball, he was putting guys through half holes all day.
“There were some really good performances on attack but unfortunately we need to play on both sides of the ball.”
Whitaker believes the Waratahs’ traditional attacking style has finally caught up with them.
“Because we’re an attacking team, defence has been on the backburner for so long,” said the 1999 World Cup winner.
“In the Sydney market, everyone wants to see attacking rugby but I think the mindset needs to change.
“If you look at teams around the world who win competitions, it’s on the back of their defence.”
Ominously, the Hurricanes finished last in the Super Rugby Aotearoa.
With games against New Zealand’s top four sides to come, including two across the ditch, the Waratahs are staring down the barrel of their first-ever winless season.
“We’ve been written off all year, so what’s new?” Gordon said.
“But we’re trying to improve. We’re desperate to improve.
“But, to be honest, I don’t care what (people) write, it’s more important what we do.
“We do such great work in attack and we look good for long patches in the game – and defence we did too – and then we’ll miss a one-on-one.
“Defence is a real issue at the moment. Players have got to take ownership of that.”