NSW Waratahs coach Michael Foley and his selectors had better take a long hard look in the mirror and ask themselves two questions.
How can the rank-outsiders Western Force beat them for the first time 21-20 at Allianz Stadium last night when the Waratahs are at least a 25 percent better side on a man-for-man basis?
And how come David Harvey, an Australian Sevens rep and two-time Ken Catchpole Medal winner in 2008 and 2011 right under the selector’s noses has never been offered a contract, not even a trial, but ended up debuting for the Force last night at 29-years-of-age, contributing 16 of the 21 points with a converted try, and three penalties?
Not taking anything away from the David Pocock superbly led Force, with evergreen lock Nathan Sharpe turning in a blinder – it was a pathetic performance from the men in blue.
One win from four games is the worst start in a Super tournament since 1997. Diehard supporters will claim the Waratahs have been unlucky to lose by a point to both the Highlanders and the Force, and beaten by a runaway 75m try in the 80th minute by Reds winger Dom Shipperly.
The scorelines are correct. Unlucky, definitely not.
The runaway try was the result of dumb rugby, kicking away possession with less than a minute on the clock. In both the one-point losses, the Waratahs simply didn’t turn up to play.
Last night, with a six-man Wallaby pack, the Waratahs managed just 24 percent possession in the first half, and were only camped in the opposition half for 36 percent of the time. The pack was dead in the water.
Yet the Waratahs led 14-13 at the break with two converted tries, which just goes to prove what the Waratahs can do with their hands on the ball. All of the Force’s 13 points were from full-back David Harvey.
That wouldn’t have surprised Gordon supporters. Harvey was the club’s fly-half who has led the Shute Shield season points-scorers four times, and one year was the Shield’s leading try-scorer.
No surprise to the Harvey family either, David is a nephew of Neil Harvey, one of the world’s greatest left-handed batsmen, an Invincible, and a superb fieldsmen.
The sporting genes are there.
So let’s ask again – where were the NSW selectors when Harvey was firing?
They should be busy this week, after last night’s shock loss. Too many Waratahs are feeling comfortably safe in their positions – they need a rocket.
So too coach Foley. He must be quizzed as to why Waratah intensity dropped when second half possession increased. And quizzed why the increased possession was butchered by poor options, poor handling, and far too much kicking.
Waratah watchers have come to realise the side doesn’t respect possession enough.
That’s why the paltry number of 14,673 spectators last night booed the Waratahs off the ground.
And they deserved it.