JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Turn off leading lights and Waratahs will leave Reds in the shade

Date

Matt Burke

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Rugby season kicks off

Greg Growden and Steve Samuelson are back to breakdown the first round.

PT0M0S 620 349

Different jersey, different coach, different players but the same thing applies when the Waratahs run out at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night: a win is a must.

The first game of the year against Queensland, the auld enemy from the north, will provide the energy to get the Super Rugby season off to an emotional start.

The preparation of both teams has been disrupted by injuries but that is something you have to work through. Teams that take a holistic approach will benefit throughout a long season.

"What Horwill brings to a game is his presence, his ability to win lineout ball and the options he provides around the ball players."

"What Horwill brings to a game is his presence, his ability to win lineout ball and the options he provides around the ball players." Photo: Getty Images

The Waratahs, under new coach Michael Foley, have already fielded questions relating to the state of play. Are we going to see the same as last year? My sources tell me they have made advances and are quietly confident of playing a game that will suit each opposition. Remember that running the ball for runnings' sake is not always the right thing to do. The French showed that in the World Cup final instead of focusing on taking the right options.

The Tahs' biggest hurdle tomorrow will be to shut down two of the Reds' best - captain James Horwill and Will Genia.

What Horwill brings to a game is his presence, his ability to win lineout ball and the options he provides around the ball players. If the Waratahs defend the lineout at two and four it means they have to throw to the back.

The Waratahs know there are limitations there and should have a three jumping pod strategy to upset the rhythm of the Reds.

Genia is a special player. But is he just half of a dynamic duo? Without Quade Cooper, how well will he work with Michael Harris? Genia will have to take more responsibility directing the troops. He seems to have expanded his kicking game around the ruck area. The problem in Australia is there is not enough focus on making this area attacking and it can come at the expense of running the ball. In effect, it will be free ball to the Waratahs to look for a counterattack.

A new season and some new dynamic players should allow the Waratahs to play what confronts them. Because of injuries, some younger squad members will be at the coal face tomorrow. My advice is to enjoy the occasion and relish the ball-in-hand opportunities.

This could be the chance to see some depth in the Waratahs attack. The laws regarding the defending team being behind the last feet at ruck time seem to get a little bent. The players who are going to penetrate the defensive line need to be given some time and space.

This doesn't mean a player should throw a pass five metres from his opposite man, but rather force him to commit by using speed and angling the running lines. This gives the ball player time with the ball in hand.

Centres Tom Carter and Rob Horne have big responsibilities in getting to the advantage line and creating confusion. It is time for them to stand tall on the big stage.

The truth is the Waratahs are under pressure before the season has begun - from their own expectations, and the massive pressures from the supporters and media.

They are also under pressure to take a big step forward under Foley and he expects an understanding of where they should be on the field at certain times. He expects them to execute a game plan and change if things are not going to plan.

This will be the mark of the Waratahs whether they have progressed and will evolve into a winning team.

2 comments so far

  • How is it in the shade then Matt??
    There are few things better than absolutely flogging the 'Tahs but one of them is to steal the win as the siren is sounding AND to do it in Sydney. It ain't over till it's over !
    I think you demean Genia to suggest that he is less without Cooper. The truth is that Cooper got to be what he became because he had Genia. I've seen them all since Catchpole my boyhood hero and I think Genia is the best I've seen. Different game now for sure but I go to would watch any game he was playing.

    Commenter
    Happy me
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    February 25, 2012, 11:55PM
    • Matt, another fluffy waffle filled with over used cliches. You have the privilege to contribute intelligently to the rugby conversation, please use it.

      Commenter
      youmetown
      Location
      japan
      Date and time
      February 26, 2012, 5:56PM

      Make a comment

      You are logged in as [Logout]

      All information entered below may be published.

      Error: Please enter your screen name.

      Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Please enter your comment.

      Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

      Post to

      You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

      Thank you

      Your comment has been submitted for approval.

      Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

      Related Coverage

      Rugby season kicks off (Thumbnail) Rugby season kicks off

      Greg Growden and Steve Samuelson are back to breakdown the first round.

      Playing favourites: sorting out leaders of the pack from the also-rans

      The 2012 Super Rugby season gets under way tonight when the Blues meet the Crusaders in Auckland. The Herald's chief rugby correspondent, Greg Growden, runs the rule over all 15 teams, with analysis from Matt Burke.

      Hangas and brash: Unsung No.10 unfazed by Tahs captaincy

      A BACK-UP five-eighth who did not make the eight-man Waratahs leadership group will captain NSW tomorrow night.

      Palu ready to bring pain at last

      WARATAHS enforcer Wycliff Palu loves hurting Queensland opponents. Come tomorrow night, the No.8 will have more motivation than ever.

      Wallabies fear Scots could inflict Samoa mark II

      Wallabies management are concerned there may be a repeat of the Samoa debacle if they are unable to prepare properly for their opening Test in June against Scotland. It will be impossible for Robbie Deans to pick his best players for this international, because of the Super Rugby round being held a few days earlier. He will instead be forced to rely primarily on Reds and Force players, who have the bye that weekend. Adding to the concern is that only four days later, the Wallabies play another Test against Wales - which will involve a different line-up. Disharmony is a possibility because of changed line-ups, while the lack of time to prepare for Scotland will work against Deans and co. Plus, the Scotland party will involve former Wallabies assistant coach Scott Johnson, who knows Australian rugby backwards. The Wallabies certainly don't want a repeat of last year's fiasco when they rest

      Featured advertisers