Opening win a mental boost for Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

One win has done the world of good for the Waratahs’ confidence, hooker Damien Fitzpatrick says.

The Waratahs stole an opening victory over the Stormers in the 81st minute on Saturday night, with a Ned Hanigan try snatching the result, in a finish Fitzpatrick said was critical psychologically.

Scores were even for almost the entire match, until Hanigan snuck over after full-time, with the Waratahs providing a display of grit that was rare in 2017.

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p>“Psychologically for us, it's huge,” Fitzpatrick said post-match.

“Going to the airport getting on the plane, full of confidence now that we can go 80 minutes.We were probably unlucky not to be winning by that stage.

“We probably left three or four really good opportunities out there and hopefully we can stick those ones.

“Some of the plays that Kurtley (Beale) and Israel (Folau) set up tonight, we were probably unlucky not to get more points.”

The biggest challenge for the Waratahs as they prepare for a brutal round three match-up against the Sharks is shifting the perception of their scrum, which was pushed around at times at Allianz Stadium.


They’ll have to do that without veterans Sekope Kepu (suspended) and Rob Simmons (quad), both of whom will stay in Sydney this week, but Fitzpatrick said that was a responsibility they were ready to take on.

“I hope the refs go into each game with a neutral decision but they're only human, so we understand we probably haven't showed a dominant scrum tonight but next week's an opportunity to go out and change that view,” he said.

One of four additions on tour will be Fiji Drua tighthead Kalivati Tawake, whom Fitzpatrick tipped to make a big impact.

“He's a big strong lad, Kalu and we're going to get more of an opportunity to have him scrummage and we're going to come up against two very big packs and I'm sure he'll be pushing for selection,” he said.

“When I played against him in the NRC, I remember him being very,very dominant in the scrum and for the few sessions he's had with us, he's obviously still got to learn our shape- he's come in pretty raw and he's got to learn our strategy and the way we're playing but from a scrumming perspective he's definitely going to put his hand up.”

The Waratahs flew out to Africa on Sunday morning, ahead of their clash with the Sharks.

The Waratahs face the Sharks on Saturday March 3, 3:05pm local, Sunday March 4, 12:05am AEDT.