Waratahs call in Brad Fittler for help

By Darren Walton, Darren Walton is a Roar Guru

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    Claiming former NSW coach Michael Foley had the “advantage” of inside knowledge, Waratahs counterpart Michael Cheika pulled out his own ace ahead of Sunday’s Super Rugby derby with the Western Force.

    To combat Foley, Cheika called in a favour from rugby league legend and good friend Brad Fittler on Tuesday.

    Fittler was a surprise starter at NSW training in Sydney and certainly didn’t hold back, taking full reins as he ran the backline, even scoring a try at one point, as the Waratahs soaked up the skills and wisdom of one of Australia’s greatest rugby league five-eighths.

    Back at a ground on which he knows every blade of grass after a decade at the Sydney Roosters, Fittler worked particularly closely with Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley – during and after the extended 90-minute session.

    A long-time friend of Fittler’s, Cheika said inviting the former Test and State of Origin star was worthwhile “all day, every day”.

    “It goes without saying all the guys will listen to him,” the Tahs coach said.

    “Just for something different, but already you can also see he has added something to our game.

    “Hopefully he’ll be able to sneak a few bits into the game on the weekend as well.”

    Cheika acknowledged the different skill sets in rugby league and union.

    “But you can’t deny the skills that he brings to the game,” he said.

    “It’s obviously a big bonus for us to have him down here. You only had to see how much they were listening. He was pretty much replicating shapes he was looking to get them to play.

    “He was really good.”

    Fittler even spent time working with front-rowers Benn Robinson and John Ulugia.

    “Passing is the same for props and flankers as it is for five-eighths,” Cheika said.

    “Passing is passing and that’s a big thing our guys have been working on this year – our tight-five players in particular – and I think they’re getting better at it, being able to play with the ball.”

    Saying the Waratahs “look strong”, Fittler offered “just little tips we’ve got here in league that we’ve learnt over a long time”.

    “The games obviously have their differences,” he said.

    “They’ve got to get in the rucks and mauls and stuff like that – but just some things that we do, they’re all basic, very basic.”

    The match will be the first meeting between the two sides since Foley resigned from NSW last year to join the Force, a move that opened the door for Cheika to join the Waratahs.

    Cheika insisted the head-to-head coaching battle was “irrelevant”, but admitted Foley’s inside knowledge “gives him a definite advantage, yes”.

    “I’m sure he’ll be using that in preparation for the game,” he said.

    “(But) there’s no such thing as a coaching match-up. Players play the game – the coach just sits in there and stresses.”

    Cheika said he expected halfback Brendan McKibbin to recover from his shoulder injury in time to tackle the Force and that Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau would also be available for selection after being sidelined for two weeks.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • March 27th 2013 @ 9:07am
      mania said | March 27th 2013 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      i doubt even freddy could fix the tah’s

    • March 27th 2013 @ 9:36am
      formeropenside said | March 27th 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      I hate to say it, but go the Force.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 9:46am
        Mals said | March 27th 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        Would expect nothing less from you FOS. Does every Waratahs win feel like a dagger in your heart? I hope so.

        • March 27th 2013 @ 9:55am
          formeropenside said | March 27th 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          Not a dagger in the heart, more like an annoying mosquito when you are trying to go to sleep. The rest of Australia would be so much better off without NSW rugby.

          • March 27th 2013 @ 1:22pm
            stanley grella said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            without NSW rugby, there would be no reason for the other teams, nothing to aspire to would lead to mediocrity and finally death.

            • March 27th 2013 @ 3:59pm
              formeropenside said | March 27th 2013 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

              well,the other teams might finally get a decent shot at Wallaby selection for a change

              Queenslanders would pack Suncorp out regularly to see a proper Wallaby team take on teams like the AB’s on a regular basis.

              death in NSW would not deleteriously affect rugby in Queensland. Maybe it would hurt the mendicant “provinces” but that is really none of my concern

              • March 27th 2013 @ 4:51pm
                eagleJack said | March 27th 2013 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                If only you put as much effort into life as you do about hating everything NSW/Sydney. Maybe you could have been successful.

              • March 27th 2013 @ 5:22pm
                formeropenside said | March 27th 2013 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                ts not hate, eJ, more contempt.

                thanks for reminding me of the personal failure I am apparently afflicted with.

              • March 28th 2013 @ 5:20am
                Hightackle said | March 28th 2013 @ 5:20am | ! Report

                FOS has nothing to say but NSW is bad.
                He complains even though far more Reds are selected.
                So not only does he hate NSW, he doesnt even have a reason for it, so he just makes one up.
                50% more Reds were Wallabies in 2012.
                All 3 assistant coaches were QLDers.
                All 4 captains were QLD products.
                Boo hoo.
                You live in a world thats the opposite to reality.
                Mitchell, Moore, JOC, Barnes all QLDers.

      • March 28th 2013 @ 12:34am
        GWS said | March 28th 2013 @ 12:34am | ! Report

        I support the wbs.
        And anyone playing the tahs.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 10:13am
      rl said | March 27th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      well, if they can understand Fittler’s gibberish they’ll have no problems understanding Robbie…

    • March 27th 2013 @ 10:23am
      WoobliesFan said | March 27th 2013 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      Let me get this straight – the Waratahs needs help playing rugby union, so they call on an ex league player?

      Why wouldn’t you call on Nick-Farr Jones? Or Matt Burke? Campo? Mat Rogers even.

      Strange decision, but indicative of an organisation that is lost at sea.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 11:28am
        Boomeranga said | March 27th 2013 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        Was Steve Byrne at the All Blacks indicative of an organization all at sea as well? What about Brian Smith at the Brumbies? John Muggleton at the Wallabies?

        I fully support them looking at using people that can contribute in different ways. I’d love them to go knock on Paul Roos’ door as well and get him to teach them to kick and mark.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 12:36pm
        ScrumJunkie said | March 27th 2013 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        WF, it’s a consultant fee for his good mate. He’s probably not mates with the players you mentioned.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 4:43pm
        Big Time said | March 27th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

        Take your Union hat off for a tic, and without being disrespectful, Fittler is more gifted then all those blokes. Yeah they were great Union players, but Fittler was a class above them. Naturally one of the most gifted players to have played League, who had good vision, great kicking game, excellent passing game and a solid defender. I could think of worse people to get in.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 10:26am
      Jock M said | March 27th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      Is bringing in Brad Fittler further proof that Rugby is now a clone of League?
      Without an open competion at the breakdown there is little to differentuate the two codes.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 11:24am
        mania said | March 27th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        dont think freddy was playing in the forwards.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 11:31am
      peterlala said | March 27th 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

      Brilliant move by Michael Cheika. What a great experience for his players, personally and professionally.

      I know Brad Fittler would have told them to keep possession, not kick the ball away aimlessly. That alone could change their season.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 1:23pm
        stanley grella said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        so yo havnt watched them at all this year then?

      • Roar Guru

        March 27th 2013 @ 2:06pm
        Jiggles said | March 27th 2013 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        Didnt Fitler have to kick it away every 5 tackles?

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