"Alarm bells" ringing but Waratahs determined to turn season around

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs captain Rob Simmons says a winless start to Super Rugby has “alarm bells” ringing in the squad but he is confident they can turn their season around.

NSW have lost their opening three matches, in what is their worst start to a Super Rugby season in history, and face the Lions next weekend after a bye.

Simmons said there was certainly cause for concern but was steadfast in his view that a positive shift was around the corner.

“I don’t think there’s any denying that (we’re in a hole),” he said.

“We’re 0-3. If that doesn’t ring alarm bells then I’m probably not doing my job.

“I think we’ve got to focus on some positives or build some more positives into our game

“Realistically I think we need to get our attack going a bit better, hold onto the ball to start with to really unleash some good attack and individuals through some space.”

Coach Rob Penney said earlier in the week that he would be willing to scale back his more fluid attacking plan if the players weren’t fully invested in that plan but Simmons said he felt the group was behind the shift.

“We’re definitely buying into it,” he said.

“I think it’s our decision making within the plan on what we’re trying to do.

“I mentioned before that a solution would be if we could hold the ball a couple of phases.

“A lot of opportunities would come if we could hold that ball a bit longer.

“We don’t want to hold people back from expressing themselves out there and bringing what they bring to a game, but offloading in contact, doing things like that at the right times and making those decisions at the right times, trying not to build back to back pressure situations.”

Simmons said the chance for players to spend some time away from the club this week was a timely opportunity for the squad to clear their minds.

“The rugby calendar's a big year so I think those recovery days are important mentally moreso, but physical also,” he said.

“Everyone's been getting their work done and it's an opportunity for them to take a break mentally, refresh and also clear their mind and not come back in so foggy or willing to shoot from the hip and actually go back, review it properly.

“It's a chance for us to review what's happened in the past and then we get to move forward for this next block.”

The Waratahs came back from their bye week leave on Friday, training for the first time together in a week, and Simmons said he expected everyone to be raring to go.

"I expect a bit of energy out there on the field and excitement to grow the game and get better in this week coming up and improve areas, especially our attack and our defence," he said.

As skipper, Simmons will set the tone for the team as they attempt to reverse their disappointing start and said he was embracing that responsibility as a leader.

“I'm enjoying that part and it's a challenge and it's hard but if it was easy then it probably wouldn't be so satisfying at the other end,” he said.

“I'm enjoying learning, learning a lot about myself and learning about this area as a full-time role.”

The Waratahs take on the Lions at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta on Friday February 28, kicking off at 7:15pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Earlier in the day, the Waratahs women face the Brumbies, kicking off at 4:15pm AEDT, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and via Kayo Sports.