‘What actually is the issue?’
That question came from Waratahs captain Michael Hooper on Friday night, when asked how they would approach the aftermath of their loss to the Kings.
It’s seemingly the hardest question to answer for the Waratahs right now but the one they most desperately need to address.
They’ve been searching for a fix every week in what is currently a 2-6 season and Hooper said they simply could not come up with a solution so far.
“If you can tell me (how to change it), I’d be stoked,” he said.
“Right now, for eight rounds or nine rounds, I haven’t had it.
“The position we’re in now is we’ve got to do something about it, to make a change, not that we haven’t been trying, but we’ve got to really try and get through, wade through all the rubbish and find out what it is.
“We’re saying, ‘It’s this, we’ll change this,’ and then had a bye, so, ‘Let’s put that seven rounds behind us’, we thought the changes would get us a result out there tonight but that didn’t work.
“So, what actually is the issue?”
Handling errors, scrum problems, lineout inconsistency, defensive lapses all bobbed up as possible answers but the fact that there are so many mistakes, may signal something deeper in the team’s mentality.
Coach Daryl Gibson took the blame for last night’s loss initially but Hooper said there was no escaping the players’ responsibility for an error-riddled performance that cost them a chance to close the gap on the Brumbies.
“We’re the ones playing,” he said.
“It’s an individual thing and an effort thing. We’re all fit, we’re all fit, it’s the want to be there that’s in question.
“It’s hard for me to say, being on the field looking around but the review will be pretty cruel and it’ll pick people out.”
Hooper said criticism of Gibson was unfair, putting himself in the line of fire as the club’s captain.
“He’s the way forward at this club and things just haven’t clicked,” he said.
“My head’s there as well, because I’m the one leading the guys out there.
“I feel like we’re putting ourselves in the right position to get there, it’s just not happening for whatever reason.”
Flyhalf Bernard Foley defended Gibson when asked how his reaction after their 26-24 loss to the Kings compared to the likely furore his predecessor Michael Cheika, now Wallabies coach, might have brought.
“Daryl’s not as confrontational as 'Cheik', there’s not too many who are, but Daryl has still got the playing group, everyone’s right behind him,” - Bernard Foley.
“I think that what we’re doing as players is not reflecting that belief and that trust that we have in our game, in our coaches, in this whole organisation on that field for 80 minutes.
“I thought in patches it was there tonight but it wasn’t there in the 80 minutes and that’s reflective in our game, guys trying to do things one-out, trying to get the turnover penalty rather than just trusting the defensive systems.
“That’s the disappointing thing from tonight.”