Waratahs fight to avoid Super panic against Blues

By Ben Horne,

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    NSW captain Dave Dennis admits the Waratahs face a balancing act between urgency and calm against the Blues on Sunday.

    The repackaged Waratahs don’t want to start panicking about their position on the Super Rugby ladder, but the reality is they must win if they want to keep their Australian conference hopes bubbling.

    It’s the difficult conundrum facing NSW under new coach Michael Cheika, who is trying to effect a mass culture change at the perennial under-achieving club.

    For the Waratahs, long-term goals are more important than short-term targets.

    But that doesn’t mean they’re not desperate to snap a two-match losing streak against the up-tempo Blues at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

    “We’ve got a clear long-term goal which you’ll slowly see more and more as the season progresses,” Dennis told AAP.

    “But we have to win games. We need that short-term result.

    “It’s a bit of a balancing act.

    “On Sunday there’s no science to it. The boys desperately want to win. But we are more focused on putting that performance together that is as close to perfect as possible, regardless of the result.”

    It’s fair to say Cheika has had to settle the Waratahs down this week following their heavy loss to the Brumbies and disappointing stumble against the Cheetahs last week.

    Dennis admits Waratahs players had a hope that their fortunes would immediately turn around in 2013 under Cheika.

    However, the skipper is certain the coach was always a little more realistic.

    “With the playing group there was probably a thinking it might just click straight away because we had such a good off-season and there’s been a lot of positivity around the club and a few changes,” Dennis said.

    “But I’m pretty sure in the background and with the coaches, they’ve got a clear view of where we want to go as a club – and maybe they felt it was going to take a bit longer than what people think.

    “Speaking to Cheik, he demonstrates that with the way he speaks to the players.”

    Dennis said it’s been a positive week for the Waratahs, with veteran Wallabies Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu re-signing and Nick Phipps agreeing to terms for next season.

    “I think we can see a clearer picture of the future,” he said.

    Although 2012 was a season to forget for the Waratahs – arguably their two best performances – a win over the Sharks and narrow loss to the Crusaders – of the year came in day-time rugby.

    A win over the Sharks and loss to the Crusaders they played, crisp, attacking rugby.

    Dennis believes the injection of Rob Horne at No.12 will lift the team against a Sharks side (2-1) which are an attacking force under new coach Sir John Kirwan.

    “Rob has always been a confrontational type of centre so I think 12 might even suit him a bit better (than outside centre),” Dennis said.

    “He’ll get to that ad-line and give solidness in defence. And hopefully that will open up Adam (Ashley-Cooper) and our back three to a bit of space.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • March 24th 2013 @ 4:43am
      Johnno said | March 24th 2013 @ 4:43am | ! Report

      20,000 crowd pass mark is a good day , sunday afternoon footy 4pm kick off, 20,000 pass mark vs Auckland Blues, no excuses.

      • March 24th 2013 @ 8:07pm
        Steve said | March 24th 2013 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

        Official figure was just over 16,000

    • Roar Rookie

      March 24th 2013 @ 8:45am
      Boomeranga said | March 24th 2013 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Are you going Johnno? Bit nervous about containing the Blues, but should be a good afternoon

      • March 24th 2013 @ 3:14pm
        Johnno said | March 24th 2013 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        Na I’m not going staying at home .

        • Roar Guru

          March 24th 2013 @ 3:21pm
          Jiggles said | March 24th 2013 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

          You always whine about crowds, mate. Maybe you should be part of the solution…

          • March 24th 2013 @ 3:27pm
            DMac said | March 24th 2013 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

            Word. I’m there now, glorious day.

          • March 24th 2013 @ 3:59pm
            DMac said | March 24th 2013 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

            Doesn’t look like it will be 20k to me. More like 15-16k.

            • Roar Guru

              March 24th 2013 @ 4:11pm
              Jiggles said | March 24th 2013 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

              Sunday arvo having cheeky beers would get me along, even if it is the Tahs.

    • March 24th 2013 @ 11:42am
      Colvin said | March 24th 2013 @ 11:42am | ! Report

      It’s strange that John Kirwan (and Graham Henry) were able to make the Blues a winning team by bringing in a bunch of new unknown players; while Cheika has not been able to do the same with the Waratahs which is nearly a WB team.

      The aggression the Blues have demonstrated in their matches to date (apart from the last where a number of changes were made to the team) has been the most noticeable characteristic. If they produce that same aggression today the Tahs will be hammered.

      Something still is not right with the Tahs. There needs to be less talk (about culture change etc.) and more emphasis on getting in there and going for for it. Nothing will beat speed, confidence and aggression linked with a gameplan all have bought in to.

      • March 24th 2013 @ 3:29pm
        DMac said | March 24th 2013 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

        I think Cheika would have loved to bring in some new faces but he was saddled with Foley’s team. Give him a chance.

        • March 24th 2013 @ 4:05pm
          AndyS said | March 24th 2013 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          Interesting though that no-one is rolling out the same excuse for Foley having inherited Richard Graham’s team. He arrived, paid out a few players and brought some others others in. Cheika could easily have done the same, unless you are saying he already lacks control of recruiting or the support of management…?

          • March 25th 2013 @ 6:33am
            mania said | March 25th 2013 @ 6:33am | ! Report

            thats what kirwin did. turned up cleared house and started with a new team that he could call his.

    • March 24th 2013 @ 4:43pm
      Matthew Skellett said | March 24th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

      I’m watching the game now (masochist that I am) and I have to say apart from the tackling it’s the same old ‘Tah’s -shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot’yet again !!!

    • Roar Guru

      March 24th 2013 @ 9:14pm
      biltongbek said | March 24th 2013 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

      Timeous win for the Waratahs, had they lost today their season would have ony gone from bad to worse.

    • March 25th 2013 @ 3:03am
      Paul said | March 25th 2013 @ 3:03am | ! Report

      Much needed win for the Tahs. Blues are at the same stage the Canes and Brumbies were last year with all the development and changes. They will beat some highly fancied teams but I dont think they are ready to progress into the top 6 this year. They just arent experienced enough to step up to the big games when needed.

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