Waratahs looking for fresh start at new home

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs are hoping a new home will give NSW Rugby a fresh start, announcing a move to a new base on Wednesday. 

NSW's move, to the University of New South Wales's (UNSW) David Phillips Sports Complex, has been in the pipeline for months, with the financial commitments of their Allianz Stadium headquarters difficult to conquer.

Where the Waratahs share their current field space at Moore Park with a handful of other teams, including the AFL's Sydney Swans, NRL's Sydney Roosters and now the Aussie Sevens teams, this new facility will be available to them at their leisure.

A change of scene may be just what the doctor ordered for the Waratahs after a miserable 2017 and coach Daryl Gibson said it would hopefully help in refreshing his players.

An artist's impression of what the finished headquarters will look like. Photo: NSW Waratahs MediaNSW Rugby hopes the facility, which the team will move into permanently in January, will become a centre for community rugby as well as the elite level, more accessible than the security-heavy Allianz precinct.

"It goes towards creating an identity for ourselves around our own training facility, but then also the long-term vision for this place around creating a sporting hub that really services the community and long-term it's a real bonus for the club," he said.

"It's a new beginning for us, I think that's a great thing for the team to get down, get its own facilities and have its own autonomy in terms of performance."

Other options, including Eastwood and even the former Sevens base in Narrabeen, were reportedly considered as new homes for NSW Rugby, before they settled on the southern move, which will combine the community and elite levels of the game.

There is still work to be done on the area in Sydney's south-east, with construction of the players' gym still in progress, slated to be finished by January, and demountables set up for the Waratahs staff, with many back office workers opting to delay their move until 2018 as well, when more infrastructure is in place.

NSW Rugby and Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore said the move was aimed to help them connect with their communities.

NSW Rugby and Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore was all smiles at the launch. Photo: NSW Waratahs Media"We'd outgrown where we were and the SCG Trust were fantastic but for where we wanted to go with the vision of sport, we need to be far more inclusive and with the sport now growing, women's side of things, indigenous side of things, we needed to shift closer to our people and we needed to have an environment that we can make sure that those people are welcome and have a space that they can be part of it," he said.

"I think there was an element of tiredness where we were so there's a freshness element but also there's a functional element too, with regards to going from the gym straight onto the pitch, those kind of things can be fantastic, accessibility, so on and so forth," he said.

"No matter where you train, it's about the mental mindset and so our biggest challenge in this preseason has been working on the leadership and mindset and getting that right."

The Waratahs kick off their 2018 Super Rugby season against the Stormers on Saturday February 24, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Tickets at waratahs.com.au.