Better "heads up" education needed for juniors: Robertson

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A shortage of unstructured rugby education at grassroots level is hindering Australian Super Rugby teams' ability to compete with New Zealand sides, according to Waratahs prop Tom Robertson.

The difference between New Zealand and Australian "heads up" rugby has been a constant in the conversation regarding the ever-increasing gap between Australia and NZ rugby.

Appearing on FOX SPORTS Kick and Chase last night, Robertson admitted the first time he had focused on "heads up" rugby was when he entered the professional ranks with the Waratahs.

"Coming through the junior ranks, I just thought Australian rugby was very set piece orientated," he said.

"Our backs, they do their moves and the forwards do lineouts and scrums.

"We don't have as big an emphasis on unstructured play so it is, coming into a professional environment, a bit of a shock to try and teach us how to do our unstructured play.Tom Robertson and the Tahs have struggled for consistency in 2017. Photo: Getty Images"Especially for a guy like myself, where set piece is the cornerstone of my game.

"I guess that's something from a grassroots and junior perspective, that's something Australia could be a bit better at, more recently - developing that unstructured play."

Robertson said Tahs coach Daryl Gibson has been pushing the need to play better "heads up" rugby at training but it is yet to translate on field.

"It's not Daryl's fault if we don't do it then out on the field," he said.

"It's up to the players to transfer that from training into the games.Robertson has quickly risen to national honours. Photo: Getty Images"We've got to take that ownership and try and transfer those training skills into the game."

As for the Waratahs' remarkable inconsistency, Robertson was quick to look to the inordinate amount of internal pressure being applied on each performance.

"We're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, maybe a bit too much," he said.

"We're second guessing ourselves and what we should be doing instinctively.

"Our coach has given us the licence to play instinctively - Daryl is a Kiwi and loves playing a free style of rugby - I just think we need to do that more."