With the Wallabies contingent not returning until January, Waratahs defence coach Nathan Grey says this next month is the chance for the Waratahs’ fringe players to stand up.
Grey returned to training this week, joining in with a team running session on Wednesday afternoon, and said this initial pre-season stage would be pivotal for those trying to stake a claim on positions.
“We’ve got a pretty good understanding of what the 12 guys who aren’t here can do at that Super Rugby level,” he said.
“A lot of these guys we don’t, so this is their opportunity to make sure they’re getting an understanding of what it means to be a Waratah and what we do and how we train.
“It’s an opportunity to perform during training and stake their claim for that main spot.”
With new recruits including NRL convert Reece Robinson and former All Black Zac Guildford among those on the track, Grey said the focus for the Waratahs was putting players old and new on the same page.
“(It’s about) the players we’ve had in the system for a while and the academies stepping up into that next senior role and trying to earn the right to wear that Waratahs jersey,” he said.
“There’s a number of guys who have done that before and understand how hard it is to perform consistently at that Super Rugby level.
“That’s part of what we’re doing at the moment is getting those other guys and giving them an understanding of how hard it is and how well prepared they need to be so come start of the season they're ready to go.”
Grey said he was confident the extended break for their national representatives off the back of a brutal World Cup campaign would be critical in preparing for their 2016 preparations
“It’s important they get a good mental break, get away from the game and come in fresh,” he said.
“No doubt they’ll be in good condition.
“To get back to speed physically, you need that mental break to come back fresh and ready to ready to learn, ready to improve.”
Grey said he was confident that the Waratahs could manage the return of flyhalf Bernard Foley as well, who will come into the Super Rugby training straight off the back of the Japanese Top League season.
“The footy’s tough (in Japan) but...he’s a smart operator and knowing Bernard he’ll come back and be in a good mental space and we’ll be able to manage that as well.”