It’s hard to come to grips with Michael Hooper’s Wallaby-laden Waratahs winning just two of seven Super Rugby games this season.
How can a side that boasts around 10 Wallabies in the starting lineup every game play like a social side?.
Remember what Hooper said after the South African leg when the Waratahs were thumped 92 points to 50 by the Lions and Sharks?
“It’s been a successful tour on the training paddock” was the captain’s summary.
Having fallen over the line against the Force in the opening round, those two defeats were the second and third rounds.
Since then the woeful Waratahs have been beaten by the Brumbies, came from well behind to beat the Rebels, and have since been convincingly beaten by the Crusaders and Hurricanes.
This week Nathan Grey, the former tough-tackling Wallaby centre, and currently the Waratahs’ defence coach, said, “It gets frustrating from our perspective because when they’re training the guys are doing well defensively and it’s quite strong.
“But in game, whether it’s a little bit of lack of confidence and a lack of belief and a little bit of fear of failure, that creeps into the guys’ minds.”
Bloody hell, that’s the second time the Waratahs have been quoted as performing well on the training paddock.
How can so many quality footballers not take their training form into a game?
How do they forget how to pass, catch, support, and tackle?
Let’s look at the cold hard, but painful, truth:
The Waratahs are the only franchise in 18 not to post a bonus point in seven games from either tries, or losing by seven points or less – not one bonus point.
The Waratahs have scored 163 points for, and had 237 against for a deficit of 74 – pathetic.
The Waratahs have scored 21 tries, 10th among 12th on the list among 18 franchises led by the Hurricanes with 48, but let in 31 tries, the sixth-worst.
That’s an average of three tries a game for the Waratahs, but letting in 4.45 game.
The Waratahs have turned over possession 135 times in seven games – an average of 20.14 a game.
And to top off the miseries, the Waratahs have missed 182 tackles, or an average of 26 a game.
There’s no hope in hell the Waratahs can beat any side with those stats.
But they are lucky, they play the Kings tonight, who can’t beat time, and should never ahve been invited into the tournament last season.
They will be gone for next season.
Can the Waratahs run up a cricket score to roughly get back in the fight?
Here’s a suggestion.
If Waratah management put up photos of Waratah legends all around the Alliance dressing shed walls, that’s a start.
Let’s have Ken Catchpole, Nick Farr-Jones, John Hipwell, Mark Ella, David Campese, Matt Burke, Jim Lenehan, Michael O’Connor, Michael Hawker, and Dick Tooth up there from the NSW backs of the past.
And Jon White, Col Windon, Tony Daley, Phil Kearns, Ewen McKenzie, Topo Rodrigues, Peter Johnson, Rob Heming, Steve Cutler, Simon Poidevin, Phil Waugh, and Tim Gavin from up front.
Perhaps the physical reminder of those who made the Waratahs one of the best provincial sides in world rugby might give the current crop the adrenalin they are obviously missing.
Michael Hooper dropped this quote last night.
“It’s really time to start kicking into gear.”
At long last the captain has got the message, but can the troops follow suit?