Waratahs satisfied with Trust turf plan

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore is confident the SCG turf will be ready to stand up to scrums when they take on the Crusaders at the iconic ground in a fortnight's time.

Chunks of the surface were dislodged in the Super Rugby match, a situation that Reds coach Brad Thorn described as "disappointing", pointing to the problems as having a major impact on his side's ability to exert influence at scrum time.

Ground staff had to run onto the field during stoppages in play to replace divets of grass that had been dislodged.

The SCG Trust announced on Sunday that it was set to replace 3000m2 of the turf ahead of their next event, a Friday night NRL match between the Roosters and Rabbitohs.

Hore said he was satisfied with the Trust's plan and expected the turf to be better for their March 23 clash with the Crusaders..

"In general play it was fine, it was those high impact collisions and just pressure effectively where it came up," he said.

"It's not the only surface in Australia I've ever seen do that and they can turn it around pretty quickly. I

"It is what it is, so we've just got to fix it up and move on. And work with the trust.

"Tomorrow will be a good day to get down there and see the new turf being rolled out and see what we can try to help them anyway we can to make sure we get a good surface for the Crusaders game."

NRL bosses were reportedly organising emergency meetings with the Trust after seeing the surface on Saturday night ahead of their opening round but Hore said there was no considerations of the Waratahs moving any of their upcoming SCG games due to the surface.

Waratahs hooker and RUPA president Damien Fitzpatrick praised referee Glen Jackson for ensuring scrums were set in safer areas and communicating with both front rows.

"At times, Jacko I thought did a really good job on managing the ground and he was always checking with the boys, "Look are you happy with where we're about to go?"," he said.

"He was very consultative out there in terms of the way he managed both front rows to make sure we weren't packing down anywhere we didn't feel safe but at the same time there's  going to be some questions asked whether you can have that much turf lift up and safety will come into it."

Waratahs forward Ned Hanigan said while parts of the turf were soft under foot, he wasn't concerned for his own safety during the game.

"Running around under deck it feels quite hard, it's really good," he said.

"It's just that set piece when we come together and after a bit of drizzle of rain, I don't know how much force those front rowers are putting through the ground and second rowers, it's a bit loose underneath but I think we didn't really worry about it too much.

"Obviously there was a few reset scrums, there was a few dropped balls, so there was porbably more of a chance that we had more scrums during the game but in terms of worrying about  it, no one's too concerned, didn't feel dangerous."

The SCG Trust released a statement on Sunday confirming they will replace about 3000m2 of the turf ahead of that match, saying a late downpour had impacted the quality of the ground.

The Waratahs play the Crusaders at the ground in a fortnight's time and also take on the Rebels there in three weeks.

“The SCG will replace 3000m2 of turf today in preparation for Friday night’s NRL round one match between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs," the statement read.

“Turf at the eastern and western ends of the field was compromised during Saturday night’s Super Rugby match.

“A combination of late rain before kick-off in areas of the field dominated by the winter rye grass contributed to damage at scrum time.

"The SCG is confident that the surface will be ready for the Waratahs’ match against the Crusaders on March 23.

“The new turf is of the ready-to-play variety and will be available for a Roosters training session on Wednesday.

“The SCG will continue to work with its sports partners to ensure the field of play is presented to the highest standards."