Rugby-Ten years on, nearly-men Waratahs playing for their season

  • Rugby
  • Thursday, 11 Apr 2024

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs will mark 10 years since their only Super Rugby title when they take on the Canterbury Crusaders on Friday night but the atmosphere will be decidedly downbeat compared to the heady days of 2014.

Australia's best-resourced team heads into the fixture with just one win from seven matches this season - against the Crusaders in Melbourne in round two - and third-year coach Darren Coleman fighting to keep his job.

Wallabies lock Jed Holloway, a non-playing junior squad member when the Waratahs beat the Crusaders to win the title a decade ago, said the season was on the line against the New Zealanders at Sydney Football Stadium.

"It's our season, as much as it sucks," the 31-year-old told reporters on Wednesday.

"We can't afford to dwell on the hurt behind losing the amount of games that we have this early in the start of the year, otherwise we're not going to improve at all.

"So we need to we need to park it, and get the learnings and look inwards to get better."

Holloway is not the only Waratah who has been in outstanding form this season, and part of the frustration for fans is they have been close to several more wins this season, twice missing out due to miscued kicks.

"I think it's pretty evident. We're missing that last 10% in attack, where we're making line breaks but our own errors are killing us," he added.

"We're making inroads against good teams. Apart from the result (last) weekend, all of our losses have been by seven or less. So with a couple of different things happening, you're looking at a whole different season."

The Crusaders have also had a poor start to the season under former Waratahs coach Rob Penney after winning a Super Rugby title in each of the previous seven seasons.

"The Crusaders are probably in a similar spot, to be honest," Holloway said.

"They've had 10 straight years of success and they've come on some hardship this year. And even this year, they've only (won) one game and we have only (won) one game and it was against them.

"That game down in Melbourne, you probably saw where our potential could be when we are on, like passes sticking and what we can do to teams."

The Waratahs will be without Angus Bell on Friday after the Wallabies prop suffered a toe injury in last week's thumping loss to the ACT Brumbies.

Bell has been ruled out for the rest of the season, further deepening what coach Coleman has described as a "crisis" in his front row stocks.

"He's a massive part of our team, scrum-wise, ball carry-wise, just personality-wise," Holloway said of Bell. "So we definitely feel for him."

The highlight of the other three Super Rugby Pacific matches this weekend pitches the Waikato Chiefs, runners-up last year, against the Wellington Hurricanes, the only unbeaten team left in the competition.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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