The Waratahs aren’t hitting the panic button despite sitting in a 1-3 hole four weeks into 2017, forwards coach Cam Blades says.
A loss to the Brumbies last weekend leaves them fourth in the Australian conference ahead of Friday’s crucial clash with the Rebels.
Slow starts to the year are not unfamiliar for the Waratahs, who were 2-4 down after six matches last year, and Blades said they felt they had come close without being able to fully click across the board.
“Obviously it’s worrying whenever it’s not coming together but there’s a lot of confidence in the group and a lot of positive energy and belief in the group,” he said.
“[We’re] certainly not at panic stations yet because we've got great confidence in the direction we’re trying to head.
“You’re searching to find those reasons why (it’s not working) and there’s not always a perfect answer or magic formula to it.
“Obviously the whole group's trying to sift through and work out if there’s any key things we’re missing or things that can be corrected to get that fix. We just haven’t quite found that rhythm yet.”
Blades dismissed any notion of an attitudinal problem in the forward pack, rather saying that too much excitement was a problem under pressure.
“There’s an argument at times we’re overenthusiastic and don’t always stick to principles.” - Cam Blades.
“Sometimes either one off or as a pack, we try and solve a problem not within how we set our plan out and that can bite you when teams are good enough to exploit that.
“You might be the superior pack but if another team’s working cohesively you’ll come back second best and at times we’ve slipped into that a little bit.”
In positive news for the Waratahs, Jack Dempsey is likely to only miss eight weeks of Super Rugby with a foot injury, with the flanker avoiding surgery, the club confirmed on Monday.
If all goes well, that could put him on track to return for the Waratahs’ next clash with the Rebels on May 21, ahead of Australia’s June Test series.
Dempsey was one of four Wallabies development players on last year’s Spring Tour, earmarked as a potential 2017 debutant, and it was initially feared he could miss the rest of the season with the injury.
Ned Hanigan replaced Dempsey against the Brumbies, but Dean Mumm or Michael Wells could be in contention to don the starting six against the Rebels.
Tighthead prop Sekope Kepu is walking a tightrope to be included in Friday’s match after a concussion, with head knock protocols usually prescribing a six-day layoff.
The Waratahs take on the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.