Waratahs need to find spark: Kepu

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu says his teammates have to ignore the overwhelming statistics hanging over Australian rugby, as they brace for a brutal run to the June break.

The Waratahs, who have just three wins from 10 games so far, face the Rebels at home after their bye, before a two-week tour of New Zealand, meeting the Highlanders and the Chiefs.

With four consecutive losses after byes, that return clash against the Rebels looms as crucial ahead of a make-or-break Kiwi trip.

To stay in contention for the Australian conference lead and the only final spot an Australian team can realistically claim after a dismal season, the Waratahs will likely have to win at least one of those trans-Tasman derbies.

The current leaders, the Brumbies face the Reds, Kings and Jaguares in their three games before the June break, an ostensibly easier run, giving them the chance to shut the Waratahs out of the race.

The Waratahs and Brumbies will face off on Saturday night. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Waratahs remain the last team to beat a New Zealand side, a 45-25 win over the Chiefs just shy of a year ago, and Kepu said they couldn’t let a 17-0 start to 2017 cloud their view.

“You can look at it both ways. we've done it before and there's no reason why we can’t do it (again),” he said.

“Those are things that guys - you read stats and whatnot - we're not really interested in that.

“For us we're worried about what we want to do, what we can control.

“We've got to go out and be a good 10-12 days we're away, get together as a group and just enjoy each other's company.

“It's a massive challenge and I know I'm pretty excited about that as well, even though it's a few weeks away.”

To have any chance of scaling that challenge, the Waratahs will have to overcome their rollercoaster approach to matches, with their latest 40-minute effort falling seven points short of the Blues.

The Waratahs take on the Blues in Sydney. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile no one at the Waratahs seems able to put a definitive finger on the problem plaguing them, Kepu said they really just needed to find the elusive 'switch'.

“You look back at the Crusaders game, I look back at the hurricanes game, we could've got bonus points in either game. We had it until the 70th minute but that's all in hindsight .

“For me personally I know the team definitely believe it's growing more and more confident, it's just a matter of flicking that switch and coming out firing from the first whistle.”

And how to find that spark?

Kepu said the Waratahs would need to look introspectively with a week off to ‘dig deeper’ into that problem.

“Daryl's spoken to the team, we've all individually got to go away and have a think about things,” he said.

“We might have ideas, guys might do their own research and dig deep, that's for me. I'm definitely going to look into that and come back ready to roll.”