World Rugby Hall of Fame David Campese lamented a ‘clueless’ performance by the NSW Waratahs, who created unwanted history on Friday night by losing four straight games to start the season for the first time in history of the club’s Super Rugby.
Two late consolation tries denied the Melbourne Rebels a bonus point, but the 33-14 pounding at AAMI park further underlined just how desperate a situation a proud state of rugby finds itself.
Former NSW star Morgan Turinui simply said the performance was “not up to Super Rugby AU” on the Stan Sport cover, while praising “a very dominant performance from the Rebels” .
Campese, who has previously applied to coach Waratahs, said the issues run much deeper than Rob Penney’s.
“It’s been a few years back where the problems started, so these people should be responsible for what’s going on now, but they’re not here anymore, so you have the upper hand,” Campese said.
“They don’t really seem to be enjoying their rugby. You can’t rely on the coach – you have to show up and play.”
Campese also asked why five-eighth youngster Will Harrison played with a minor hip injury that left Jack Maddocks with the goalkicking homework.
Sizzling rebels stun the Tahs
“Harrison tonight, one of the best kickers in the game, to get an injury and let him play – the opposition realizes he’s not 100% fit, so let’s just attack that area.”
Alarmingly, the Waratahs’ next game is against the fit Queensland Reds, who have just toppled defending champion Brumbies.
It could get really ugly considering the The Reds have already beaten their fiercest rivals 41-7 in a record-breaking first round victory.
Roz Kelly of Stan Sport asked Coach Penney how such a proud club got to this point.
“There will be a book written at some point,” Penney replied.
“Tonight is not the time to diagnose everything. As an organization there is a lot of soul searching going on. They (the players) understand and take criticism, as we all do, but we have to keep a positive state of mind.
“We’ll think about tonight, get to work on Monday, put our boots back on and get back to work. What’s disappointing is that we’re better than that.”
Penney said he was “really proud” of the Waratahs coaching staff for not putting “undue pressure or stress” on a young team despite struggling with the idea that “maybe it is.” be what we have to do “.
“But this is a relatively inexperienced group,” he concluded.
“If we put the torch on them as well, they have nowhere to go. I guess there is a lack of experience in some key areas and when you don’t have it that burden and expectation can take a heavy toll.
“We have very good people in our backroom staff who come on board to help us deal with this mental stress that is obviously happening.”
Former Australia 7-a-side international Allana Ferguson identified a lack of creativity in NSW’s game plan and said these were easy choices for organized defense.
But former Wallabies lock, Justin Harrison, has warned of change for the sake of change.
“When you’re in a time of trauma and despair, sometimes every change feels like a good change,” Harrison said.
“You must be careful.”