Chieka sets Waratahs top two target
Coach Michael Cheika has boldly set the NSW Waratahs an ambitious target of finishing in the top two of the 2014 Super Rugby competition, after revealing two more newcomers to his squad.
Former Australia A back Matt Carraro and young hooker Tolu Latu are the latest additions to the 30-man roster, leaving Cheika with only one spot to fill.
The other newcomers previously announced are Wallaby backs Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps, Springbok loose forward Jacques Potgieter, utility back Jono Lance and back-rower Tala Gray.
Cheika will look for one more front-rower to round out a squad for which he has set a testing goal, after they finished ninth overall and third in the Australian Conference in his first year in charge.
“If we can finish top two, then we’re a chance of winning it – that’s our holy grail,” Cheika said.
He wasn’t concerned he would be placing undue pressure on his players by setting such a high target.
“I think the players would be dirty on me if I didn’t want to set that ambition, now that I feel the base is there,” Cheika said.
“I’m still not convinced about this whole pressure thing. If you are not playing the game to win it, why else are you playing?”
He said focusing on their mental approach and converting more scoring opportunities would be the areas they needed to target to crash the top two.
Cheika said NSW needed to capitalise more on their strength in the scrum and lineout and adopt a more physical approach, while continuing to employ a running style.
“Certain parts of our team will have to become better,” Cheika said.
“The defensive side of the game, we can put a bit more sting in our tail.”
Winger-centre Carraro played for the Brumbies in 2007 and the Waratahs in 2008-09 and returns to Australia after club stints in England and France.
Latu 20, who played in Sydney University’s club premiership-winning side last weekend, is just the second hooker in the squad behind Wallabies star Tatafu Polota-Nau.
He started in the centres before moving into the back-row.
“I got told ‘mate, you are too unfit and you are too slow to be in the loose forwards so you should try your hand in the front row’ … that was probably the best move that I’ve made,” Latu said.© AAP 2014