Patience will pay off for Aussie rugby fans: Penney

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Patience will eventually pay off for Australian rugby fans.

That's the view of Waratahs coach Rob Penney after another weekend where inevitable comparisons are being drawn between the Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa competitions.

Saturday's back-to-back games are the most obvious comparisons and on this Saturday, the difference was fairly stark.

In the 5:35pm AEST slot, the Crusaders and Blues were slugging it out in an enthralling contest, highlighted by some slick Richie Mo'unga moments.

Less than two hours later, Force and Waratahs played out a competitive game at the SCG but errors and large waves of momentum was reflective of two teams widely expected to finish in the Super Rugby AU bottom two.

It followed a dour Friday contest that, despite a thrilling Super Time finish, was at many points lacklustre in wet conditions.

Saturday's New Zealand game was between the competition's two top sides and Penney likened it to an "All Black trial" given the number of Test players on the field.

"If you look at the Reds, they've made some really good progress, Brumbies obviously playing some really great rugby and we're right at the beginning of our cycle here at the Waratahs for all the reasons I've mentioned (this year)," he said.

"If we compare the game tonight with the Crusaders and the Blues it's like an All Black trial because of the numbers but you'd have to say tonight's game, although the boys are all desperately keen to try to play for Australia, not the equivalent, if you're matching apples with apples, it's not the same just yet."

Penney said it was unfair to compare the Australian sides dominated by inexperience and a still growing cohesion to a powerhouse like the Crusaders or what is a star-studded Blues outfit.

"I think it's tough, I know what you're saying though and you want to look at it and go, 'Wow, there's a difference' but I just think there's a difference in the cycles, a difference in the time they've been together," he said.

"Out there (at the Waratahs) there's a side that have been together with me and our coaching group, which is quite new, we've been together since late November last year.

"It hasn't even been a 12-month cycle yet - Western Force have been together for what, three months, two months, less, great credit to them to pull that team together and be so competitive, a lot of credit goes to them.

"I think it'd really tough to compare, just a little bit of patience, hopefully we can get there."

It's not the first time that Australian rugby fans have been urged to be patient but Penney pointed to the Blues to show how things can turnaround.

The Auckland side has battled in recent years but had a coaching change, returning Tana Umaga to an assistant role, and picked up a major recruit in Beauden Barrett - two factors that have helped them realise their potential.

"You've got two teams there that are mid to late in their cycle, in terms of their game maturity, how long they've been playing a style of rugby," he said.

"The Blues have been a side, that if you just take them for a moment, that have been together for five or six years but have never really accomplished what the talent might say they're capable of.

"Over the last 18 months, they've gradually stepped up and now everyone's lauding them.

"They've had time to build - Crusaders, their succession planning's second to none.

"They know who their replacement is in three years' time and they're already being indoctrinated to the way the Crusaders play."