Change beginning at Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs still have two 2017 matches left, but the seeds of change are already being sown ahead of 2018.

NSW announced changes to its coaching staff last week, with Nathan Grey going full-time with the Wallabies, scrum coach Cam Blades finishing up and Australia U20s coach Simon Cron joining the staff to assist with the contact area.

The Waratahs will have one fewer coaches in 2018, even with the impending addition of Australia U20s coach Simon Cron, partly hamstrung by finances, head coach Daryl Gibson said.

Gibson will take on Grey’s defence responsibilities and though he wants to embrace the challenge, he admitted resources were limited when it came to filling the department.

“Certainly with our financial restrictions we're looking at three coaches,” he said.

“That will mean for me, extra responsibility, take on the portfolio of defence, something that I'm really looking forward to.

“As an attack coach, you look strongly at defences and I'm really looking forward to that challenge, coaching a different area, one I see as a real opportunity in the evolution of the game at the moment.”

Wallabies scrum coach Mario Ledesma was pitching in at Monday’s training and is expected to be involved in the contact area of the game for the final fortnight, before Cron comes on board for 2018.

The Waratahs’ session had a different look to it, with some intense running to kick things off on Monday, a clear flow-on from the fitness concerns the Wallabies voiced during the June Series.

“I know we've talked a lot in Australia at the moment around making sure those standards are adhered to and certainly here we're really keen to make sure we really increase our standard,” Gibson said.

“We're determined to have a really strong final two weeks, both on the training field and off it.

“We're going to train hard and get the rewards off that.”

Gibson could be set to blood some new talent against the Jaguares on Saturday, with U20s lock Ryan McCauley well and truly in the frame for a debut.

A broken arm means Will Skelton’s NSW farewell has been cut short, opening up a spot in the second row.

Ned Hanigan will make his Wallabies debut on Saturday afternoon. Photo: WalmsleyNed Hanigan is in the frame for a return to lock with Skelton’s injury and the return of Jack Dempsey, who was the incumbent six before his injury put Hanigan at blindside.

“Ryan comes into the equation now…we're a bit down in the locking positions so he'll come into the selection frame this week,” Gibson said.

“That's an opportunity for us potentially look at Ned playing second row, with Jack Dempsey back in the equation we'd really like to get both those guys on the field at the same time.”

Winger Reece Robinson is also out for the rest of the season with a severed finger tendon, while Nick Phipps will return to full training next week, after ankle syndesmosis ruled him out of the Wallabies’ June Series.

The Waratahs take on the Jaguares on Saturday, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.