Players take ownership after Tahs' defensive lapse

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs players have taken their share of the blame for a leaky defensive performance last weekend, desperate to turn things around against the Sharks.

After missing 29 tackles in a 55-36 loss to the Lions last weekend, defence coach Nathan Grey said the players had not shied away from their disappointment.

“The guys took a lot of responsibility for the performance and it’s a matter of going about working a plan to rectify those things,” he said.

“A lot of the defensive misses were just little technique things around our positioning and our squeeze and our leg drive.

“All those things are controllables that the players can control.”

Describing the effort as ‘uncharacteristic’, Grey listed a number of factors that contributed to the break down in defence.

The Waratahs have plenty of work to do. Photo: Getty Images“It’s a new experience for a lot of the players, playing over here and they certainly challenged us around their ball carrying and the way they played the game,” he said.

“As coaches, we certainly take responsibility for that, for probably not having the guys as ready as they should’ve been but we’ll make sure looking forward that everything’s ready to go.

Grey said they were prepared to be targeted in the maul, after struggling defensively against the Lions in that area.

Flanker Jack Dempsey was frank about the team’s defensive woes, but adamant things had been turned around this week.

“I don’t think a few of us showed up to the game on the defensive side,” he said.

“We’re all 100 per cent behind the game plan and the strategy that we want to play this year.

“It’s pretty obvious that at the weekend the defensive side wasn’t up to it.

“We put 30-odd points on which is enough to win games of Super Rugby. It's obviously the other side of the field and the game that we need to work on.”

Will Skelton and Nick Phipps are both expected to be named in the Waratahs’ side when it is named on Friday morning, after making it through training this week.

In other positive news for the Waratahs, Bernard Foley has been cleared of any serious neurological damage after scans in Sydney, though his return to play date is still unclear.

The Waratahs face the Durban Sharks on Sunday morning, kicking off at 4:30am AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.