The Roar
The Roar


'He's holding a grudge': Fiji coach trolls Coleman after dramatic win over Tahs

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25th March, 2024
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Darren Coleman’s Waratahs didn’t just leave Fiji with another gut-wrenching defeat over the weekend, they also copped a cheeky serve on the way out.

Moments after witnessing Kemu Valetini – the younger brother of Wallabies star Rob – snapped a field-goal to deliver the Drua a famous golden-point win, their coach Mick Byrne rubbed salt into the wound by wearing a Chicago Bulls cap into his press conference.

“We may not have played like the Chicago Bulls, and we may not have won like the Chicago Bulls, but we won,” Byrne said.

“That’s the most important thing.”

Byrne didn’t address why he was sporting the cap, but his team media manager Shane Hussein didn’t leave anything to the imagination when he posted on Twitter a snippet of the coach wearing the cap and an old article where Coleman had downplayed their 2022 win over the Drua by saying “it wasn’t like we beat the Chicago Bulls”.

Suffice it to say that Coleman’s comments stung.

After four straight defeats to the Waratahs, it was the Drua’s first win over NSW.


Former All Blacks winger turned pundit Jeff Wilson said Coleman’s past comment, which likely was said as a reminder for the Waratahs not to get carried away after a winless 2021, was clearly used as motivation throughout the week.

“He’s not just wearing his heart on his sleeve, he’s holding a grudge! And you use that,” Wilson said on Sky’s The Breakdown.

“When you’re a coach you’ll find whatever works to get a little extra out of your team. The players who were involved would have remembered that. But that’s gold. That’s outstanding.

“(The result) wasn’t convincing in the end, he would’ve liked it to have been easier. I wonder if the hat was sitting there and he was going ‘Oh dear, this might not get used today’.”

Coleman, meanwhile, was left to rue another match that was there for the taking.

“It’s pretty painful,” Coleman said. “We’ve had three weeks in a row now. We’ve been riding the hump. We were just not good enough to pull it off.

“It was really hard.”


While Tane Edmed’s botched field goal effort during the golden-point passage made the lowlight reel, moments earlier he protruded a phenomenal diving effort to likely deny the home side a matchwinning try during the final seconds of regular time.

Later, the Waratahs’ lineout and scrum crumbled to hurt their chances of leaving Lautoka with four vital competition points.

“We had more than enough opportunities in the last 20 minutes to win the match and we just weren’t good enough,” Coleman added.

“I don’t think it was so much the decision-making – we just didn’t execute. We got jumbled up in that lineout as well, which lost us the ball.

“There were some key moments that when you’re in close games you’ve just got to be a bit more clinical and accurate.”


The three-point loss came after consecutive defeats to New Zealand opponents, the Highlanders and Blues, on home soil.

The third straight narrow defeat was another nail in Coleman’s coffin, as the third-year coach seeks a contract extension.

“I think we’ve got parts of our game in order. We just sort of shoot ourselves in the foot a bit with some simple errors at crucial times. How many A-zone turnovers we must have had in the second 20 of the first half,” Coleman said.

“To close out the game, we’ve just got to be more clinical and be able to hold the ball for longer periods and try and extract a penalty or a try at the end of it.”

The Waratahs take on the Rebels on Friday night in Sydney, with both teams desperate for a win. The Drua host the Western Force on Saturday.