NSW Waratahs face crunch time as injuries pile up

He is currently No. 7 in Australia teams, although the best with the ball is undoubtedly Rebels No. 8 Richard Hardwick.

Speaking of unsung heroes, the quality of Reece Hodge’s work in the No. 13 Rebels jersey against the Waratahs was excellent.

3. Reds find their balance.

James O’Connor changed the game against the Brumbies when he came on at half-time. He looks pounds lighter than last year, but his pace and ability to navigate the field have improved significantly. He wasn’t as good as the Rebels’ Carter Gordon in the No 10 shirt, but he’ll certainly step into the role of playmaker for the remainder of the Reds’ season – likely to Eddie Jones’ satisfaction.

But the Reds were also helped by the introduction of Jock Campbell in 15th place. The Reds look better with Campbell at full-back, with doubts lingering over Jordan Petaia’s high-ball work and kicking.

That means Brad Thorn faces a decision over Suliasi Vunivalu, who was substituted after around 50 minutes on Saturday.

Petaia will secure a wing spot – he’s a force with the ball in his hands – but Vunivalu is no guarantee of winning the other spot ahead of Filipo Daugunu.

4. The trip to Fiji can be Super Rugby’s toughest

The Crusaders’ decision to send a weakened team against Fiji’s Drua – they are required by New Zealand rugby to use All Black’s ‘weeks off’ for tryouts – raised some eyebrows even before Saturday’s big upset. The Highlanders and Chiefs both won in Fiji last year but not before enduring major scares and the Drua are clearly a more physical and resilient team this season.

The Fijian Drua continued their method of killing giants at home.

The Fijian Drua continued their method of killing giants at home.Credit:Getty

The Rebels and the Reds have come up short among Australian sides this year – they both need to travel to Suva – and the combination of the heat, home support and the Fijians’ unrelenting physicality will make this trip one of those sides that will relate to a high degree approaching trepidation. Great flanker Joseva Tamani is a joy to watch.

5. What makes a good coach? Good player.

England, Wales and Australia aren’t the only nations to believe the ‘new manager will solve it’ fallacy, and they won’t be the last. Yet it persists.

England were humiliated by France at Twickenham and new boy Steve Borthwick quickly learned that managing Leicester is not like managing England and their suffering was not Eddie Jones’ fault.


Warren Gatland enjoyed his first win of his second spell as Wales manager – against Italy – but does anyone seriously question that the success of his first spell was due heavily to the presence of generation players like Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies?

Meanwhile, the minute they rest Richie Mo’unga, Scott Robertson’s Crusaders continue to look like most other teams in Super Rugby.

The Crusaders still started with five All Blacks against the Drua on Saturday, but they usually have Mo’unga and four or five other playtesters. Coaches are ultimately defined by the players available to them.

Cully’s team of the week

1 Matt Gibbon (Rebels)

2 Lachlan Lonergan (Brumbies)

3 Cabous Eloff (Rebels)

4 Nick Frost (Brumbies)

5 Trevor Hosea (Rebels)

6 Rob Valetini (Brumbies)

7 Rory Scott (Brumbies)

8 Harry Wilson (Reds)

9 Nic White (Brumbies)

10 Carter Gordon (Rebels) – Player of the Round

11 Monty Ioane (Rebels)

12 Stacey Ili (Rebels)

13 Reece Hodge (Rebels)

14 Jordan Petaia (Reds)

15 Tom Wright (Brumbies)

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/crunch-time-for-the-waratahs-with-issues-piling-up-and-warning-signs-flashing-20230312-p5crei.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport NSW Waratahs face crunch time as injuries pile up

Ryan Sederquist

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