Waratahs welcome new format as Coleman eyes playoff push

Mon, 30/08/2021, 07:15 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Super Rugby Pacific 2022 will include Moana Pasifika and Fiji Drua

With Super Rugby Pacific locked in for 2022 and 2023, the Waratahs have welcomed the certainty as they look to turn around their fortunes under Darren Coleman.

The competition will see Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika join a 12-team Super Rugby format, set to begin February 18.

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NSW Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn told reporters on Monday the move was a positive one as they look to re-engage a fan base dealing with a winless 2020 season.

“From our perspective, it’s just nice to have certainty,” Doorn said. “We’ve now got a competition structure where we know when we start and finish and more importantly the teams we’re going to play.

“Yes, it’s a bit different from last year but one thing we’ve learnt from COVID is we have to stay nimble and innovative. The feedback (we’ve got) from fans and players today around what we know, it’s time to lock in and get started.

“We know we have a lot of work to do around fan engagement. I think having games on consistently on Fridays, Saturdays but also Sunday afternoons across the consistent time zone makes a massive difference for fans.

“It’s also given that level on certainty, not just at high performance but the fact we know who we’re playing week in, week out so you can plan better. We have a finals systems where you are in it until the end…you are always in this with a hunt so we’re excited about plenty of things."

New era in Super Rugby

For new coach Darren Coleman, he was ready to embrace the challenge of facing the NZ teams on a more regular basis as they look to challenge themselves.

“Looking at the performance side of things, I imagine there would be some benefits to testing ourselves against the Kiwi teams regularly,” he added.

“I’ve always grown up with Super Rugby being across a couple of countries and I know across the playing and coaching group, I’m excited the Fijian, Moana Pasifika and NZ teams are in because we want to test ourselves and go over there to play a different style of rugby and potentially not get not complacent in where we stand.”

The competition will see teams play 14 games, with the top eight teams battling it out in the finals.

Whilst Coleman questioned the format, he believes it sets clear goals for where the club wants to be at the end of the year.

“Personally, I think you should win more than 50% of your games to make a playoff series…I’m just glad we have a comp to play in,” he admitted.

“…Hearing the structure, I reckon playoffs are a better chance than what they were this morning.

“We’ve got to just get through pre-season and take it one game at a time. Confidence and momentum are an amazing thing, you get a good start and the boys get belief, anything could happen.

“I won’t make any bold predictions but when eight teams out of the 12 make finals, if we’re not going in with that goal clearly, we’re not having a go.”


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The former Giltinis boss officially begins his tenure as coach on Wednesday, ready to begin face-to-face work after serving his quarantine stint.

Coleman has been described by some as having one of 'the best black books in rugby' and was quick to outline his keys for rebuilding the roster as they look to finalise their list for 2022.

“Been working the globe and there have been some good Aussies helping me with the process but for me, the most important thing is experience, size and I’d love it if they were staunch New South Welshman,” he outlined.

“If the guys we bring back can tick those boxes, I’ll be a happy man but we know we’ll have spaces come up in our roster in ’23 and we can reshape further depending on individual performance.

“For now, it’s all been about adding those key areas of size and experience to get us up and add to the great signings done before I got here in Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper and Jed Holloway. I’ve just got more holes to fill.”

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