Waratahs taking aggressive approach into Trans-Tasman as reinforcements emerge

Mon, 10/05/2021, 07:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Will Harrison is set to return for the Waratahs ahead of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman. Photo: Getty Images

NSW Waratahs coach Jason Gilmore believes the lack of external expectations will free his side to play aggressively ahead of the start of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

Finishing the Super Rugby AU season with zero wins, many are expecting the same fate when they go up against their Kiwi counterparts, starting with the Hurricanes on Friday at the SCG.

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This represents the wider claims of superiority between New Zealand and Australian sides, with outgoing Highlanders Tony Brown already stating that they're expecting five wins from five.

Gilmore believes that this attitude and the subsequent underdog tag will bring out the best in the Waratahs, entering with nothing to lose.

“I love that stuff,” he told reporters on Monday. “If you’re the underdog going in, no one expects anything of you. I think it’s the perfect position for the Australian teams to come out swinging in those first games.

“No one is expecting anything of us so in terms of pressure and winning, I know the boys had a good chat, we want to be pretty aggressive with what we do in this competition.

“Whether that pans out, that’s up to us with our performances on the weekend but we’re pretty excited to see what we can do in this competition."

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The Waratahs are set to be boosted by a host of returning stars, with flyhalf Will Harrison available for selection this week.

Along with Harrison, new recruit Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco has finished his stint in quarantine over the weekend and will likely be available for their trip to Auckland next week.

After a two-week break in-between competitions, where the Waratahs headed out to country NSW to reconnect with the wider Rugby community, Gilmore believes that the break came at the perfect time for the club.

“For us, it probably happened at the best time,” Gilmore said on Monday. “We had that good bounce back against the Brumbies off the back of the last break which was good.

“We didn’t finish the last two games, which hurt a little bit. Obviously, that Force game was one that stung so I think the two weeks off has given us the chance to recalibrate as a squad to get our focus into Trans-Tasman.”

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Heading into the competition, Gilmore admits that whilst they are under no illusion about their expectations, the side is eager to break their winless streak.

“I think we just tinkered with our attack in those last three games and we want to get the ball in the hands of Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi and those guys," he added.

“I think we’re simplified our attack and what we’re doing there and we’re starting to see some good reward there. Set-piece-wise, particularly across the scrum, has improved.

“It’s a spin off, the better your attack is, the better the defence goes so I think across all elements we’ve shown improvement.

“We can’t kid ourselves though. There was an improvement but we didn’t win games of football so our challenge through Trans-Tasman, which will be a step up, is to win games and that’ll be our focus."

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