Waratahs call on ex-Bulldogs CEO for review

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs have employed the services of former Canterbury and Sydney FC CEO Dirk Melton to conduct an independent review of the club in a bid to turn things around in 2018.

Melton, who was called upon by the St George Illawarra Dragons last year for a similar review, spoke to a cross-section of people across the club, and will deliver his results in the next week.

Change has already been earmarked at Moore Park, with Australian U20s coach Simon Cron coming on as a contact assistant and head coach Daryl Gibson taking on the defence role in 2018.

Gibson said Melton’s report would give them an objective idea of what more needed to change for next season.

“It'll identify problems that sometimes you don't see and it takes an external set of eyes to look at things fresh,” he said.

“The fact that high performance is a group of systems, he's very good at identifying those systems and structures that may be lacking in our high performance program.”

Captain Michael Hooper said he was looking forward to seeing the results of the review and where he could improve.

“Me, personally, I'd love to get as much feedback as you possibly can about how to go about my business and with the season we have that has to be the attitude of all our players,” he said.

“I see it through my set of eyes, speaking through some of the other guys who have been round and you guys get an idea of what they feel,” he said.

“From an outside view, without all the weight on our shoulders which builds up throughout the season, will be really nice.

“I can't wait to look at it, get really honest opinions from everyone in the group.”

Gibson, in his second year as head coach, said he was open to leaning on the services of Rod Kafer and a new coaching advisory panel to be set up, that aims to help coaches at all levels improve.

“I think the strength of Australian rugby used to see the coach development system that was in place here,” he said.

“The system churned out a lot of Australian coaches, high quality Australian coaches.

“There's a real opportunity.

"Rod's got particular strengths through his insights around the tactical aspects of the game... and we're very open and want to get better.”

Hooper has been adamant that the Waratahs can simply not afford a repeat of 2017, ‘a lost season’ in his eyes.

“There was nothing to celebrate after the season was finished,” he said.

“That wasn't me personally, everyone felt that.

“It was a wake-up call for some of the younger players - we let ourselves and a lot of people down this year.”

Part of changing that will be bolstering their leadership, something Gibson and Hooper have admitted fell down throughout the year after a number of departures, with more senior players leaving this season as well.

“What it did do is take away the real backbone of leadership,” Gibson said.

“We've got Michael Hooper who's going to turn into one of the great captains of the Waratahs.

“What we've got to do is develop more leaders like him so he's not stepping across the line by himself.

“That's one of the challenges next season is to make sure our leadership is a really strong one.”

Some of the Waratahs players are on annual leave now that the season is over, but all will convene in two weeks to watch the Super Rugby final, as a way of benchmarking their need for change.

“It's going to suck to not be there,” Hooper said.

“It'll be frustrating to be there in that situation and not actually tie the boots on that night, however the flip side is you look forward.

“(It) should create a lot of enthusiasm and drive in the players to be like 'What are we doing?’

“This year's just been (one that) can't happen again.”