Waratahs to put kicks back in their box against Kings

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs are putting the box kick back in its namesake as they prepare to shake off a season of slow starts against the Kings.

Poor kicking cost them dearly, particularly in their last game against the Hurricanes, with the defending champions leading 21-0 by the 12th minute.

Gibson said they’d spent their week off looking at their weaknesses and opted to put the box kick away.

“Against the Hurricanes in the first 11 minutes, we were down by 21 points and a lot of that was down to that box kicking situation ,where we’re not getting a contest, not getting good spread defensively and putting ourselves under pressure.

“So we’ve shelved the box kick for a while and put that in our back pocket and try something else.”

While their first 20 minutes has been a target, it’s  the minutes before half-time that have been the most costly on the scoreboard for the Waratahs this season.

In the second quarter of games, NSW has conceded 12 tries, the most of any team in Super Rugby, compared to scoring just  three.

Their nine conceded in the first 20 minutes is not much better, second only to the Sunwolves in terms of most conceded, though five of those have come in their last two matches, against the Crusaders and the Hurricanes.

Waratahs loosehead Paddy Ryan, who will combine with Tom Robertson in the front row on Friday night, said their slow starts were  probably a psychological issue.

“It’s not something we’ve seen in recent years here, we’ve actually probably been fast to start. I think it’s probably to do with more of a mental thing,” he said.

“Most teams, they don’t even use their eight substitutions so you’re still against the same 15 for most of the game,” he said.

“(That) to me suggests that we’ve just got to get in here a bit earlier, get ourselves involved in the game a bit earlier and then take that mental approach that we’re going hard from the start, not that we’re (thinking), ‘(We’ve got our) backs against the wall, let’s have a crack now’.”

Gibson said they’d worked on their defence as a whole, having gone through the first seven rounds with the second-lowest tackle strike rate (79.3 per cent) of any side, narrowly besting the Reds.

The Waratahs went down to the Lions “I think we’ve been victims of not controlling those situations and putting ourselves under lots of pressure defensively,” he said.

Gibson said they would be wary of a Kings side fighting for its Super Rugby future, having very nearly been the victim of a desperate Rebels side in the same position in recent times.

“I know they’ll be galvanized by the news that’s swirling around them and the uncertainty they’re facing, it’s very similar to the Rebels’ situation,” he said.

“I’m sure they’re going to come out and fight and show real dogged determination that they still deserve to be in the competition.

“As I said to the team this morning ,we have to respect what they can do.

“I think if we were in that same situation, you’d be saying the same thing to your team.”

The Waratahs take on the Kings on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.