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Waratahs have players able to turn 'believe' mantra into results

Match winners: Israel Folau and Benn Robinson.

Match winners: Israel Folau and Benn Robinson. Photo: Getty Images

As to be expected, there is plenty of hype around the start of the Waratahs season. The chat from the coach is that he is not talking small. He has targeted a top-two position and, looking at the squad, you have to think why not. An influx of new talent under a smart coaching outfit, plus a team bursting with Wallabies, makes for good reading.

Michael Cheika recently said the leadership group had to make sure all the guys were clear on their identity. When I think back through history, this is perhaps the area where the Tahs have been lacking. The catchcry this year from the marketing crew is ''Believe''. Fans might think that's a little presumptuous, but I like it because if you want to be the best you have to believe and trust in others.

Who, then, are we going to believe in this season?

Israel Folau would be everyone's first pick. The way he finished 2013 was brilliant. He has excelled in the fullback role but I think he can still offer more. He will grow in his understanding of the positional nuances of No.15, and learn the shortcuts that make his job a little bit easier. His tactical kicking will improve with guidance from new coach Andrew Mehrtens.

On Sunday, the Force will try to starve him of possession to nullify his attacking potential. Frustrate him into doing something outrageous - such as pushing a pass or running when it's not on. There will be opportunities but knowing when to refrain is as important as knowing when to have a go. Look for the counter-attack chances with Alofa Alofa and Peter Betham.

One trait I do like in a player is the ability to overcome adversity. Benn Robinson got the news last year that every player dreads: ''You're no longer required.'' It's numbing. You question yourself, but that can be a good thing. It can make you stronger, and, in the case of Robinson, it has certainly triggered something. Widely regarded as one of the best ball-playing props in world rugby, Robinson has a twinkle of anticipation in his eye. Watch at scrum time for him to dominate, but also offer plenty in a ball-running role.

The quandary is always how do you get width in attack? Distribution will be paramount for the Waratahs this season. That is, getting the ball into the hands of the right people, who are rendered useless if they can't touch the ball.

This is where Bernard Foley comes into play. As playmaker in the side, he controls the flow of the game. I like his vision and especially his passing. He was a standout last year with the Waratahs and was rewarded with a Wallabies berth. Moments like those justify your existence, and self-belief then comes with the territory.

Look for him to release Adam Ashley-Cooper and the outside backs. Foley tends to follow the ball and get a second touch, which is a strength. The consistency in his game will be a key factor in the Waratahs progressing this season.

It is always good to have the bragging rights of having the John Eales Medallist in your team. Michael Hooper's all-round ability is making him one of the most valuable players around. You need a ball winner at the breakdown and he is lethal in that area. He is an excellent exponent as a ball runner and fast becoming a very good understudy to any captain.

The role of mentoring this year will be vital in getting the best out of everyone. Jacques Potgieter was recruited for one thing - his aggression. That's what the coach wants, but I'm sure he would also like Potgieter to play tutor to Will Skelton. If you recall, Skelton was a wrecking machine against the Lions last year. He will admit he ran out of steam, but the makings are there for him to be absolutely devastating. Skelton has presence on the field and, if backed up by the rest of the forward pack, could be a devastating No.8 for the Tahs.

Finally Kurtley Beale. This scribe was critical of his involvement in past events, but rugby has once again become Beale's priority, and the benefits are flowing through. He is fit after some injury concerns and even though his two preferred positions have been handed to other players, Beale has taken a shirt - the No.12 - that will best work for the team. To me, this says he has grown as a player.

I think he will benefit having Foley at No.10 calling the shots, and he can be left to show that something special that people have come to expect.

1 comment so far

  • Robinson "one of the best ball-playing props in world rugby"… Matt Burke must be watching a different prop to the one I have seen?

    Commenter
    Falcon
    Date and time
    February 22, 2014, 10:56PM

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    Super Rugby 2016

    Round 1
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    CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
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    WAR 0vs RED 0 19:40AS
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    CHF 0vs LIO 0 15:15FMG Stadium Waikato
    HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
    RED 0vs FOR 0 19:40SS
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    BUL 0vs REB 0 00:00Loftu
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    Round 3
    Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
    FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
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    REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
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    King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
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    Round 4
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    HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
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    BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
    Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
    CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
    RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
    Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
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    Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
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    REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
    Sunw 0vs BUL 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
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    CHT 0vs BRU 0 00:00FSS
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    Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
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    BLU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35QBE Stadium
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    FOR 0vs CRU 0 21:00nib Stadium
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    STO 0vs Sunw 0 03:00DHL Newlands
    HUR 0vs Jagu 0 17:35WS
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    CHT 0vs Sunw 0 03:00FSS
    BLU 0vs SHA 0 17:35EP
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    Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    BUL 0vs RED 0 01:05Loftu
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    Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
    HIG 0vs SHA 0 17:35FBS
    REB 0vs CHT 0 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
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    HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
    FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
    STO 0vs RED 0 23:00DHL Newlands
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    King 0vs LIO 0 01:05NMBS
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    BLU 0vs REB 0 17:35EP
    RED 0vs CHT 0 19:40SS
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    Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
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    BRU 0vs BUL 0 19:40GIO Stadium
    Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
    Sunw 0vs FOR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
    CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
    WAR 0vs CHT 0 19:40AS
    SHA 0vs HUR 0 23:00GpKP
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    Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
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    REB 0vs BRU 0 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR 0vs RED 0 17:35WS
    WAR 0vs BUL 0 19:40AS
    Sunw 0vs STO 0 21:45Singapore National Stadium
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    Round 13
    Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU 0vs WAR 0 17:35AMI
    Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
    RED 0vs Sunw 0 15:05SS
    CHF 0vs REB 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
    FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
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    SHA 0vs King 0 01:05GpKP
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    Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR 0vs HIG 0 17:35WS
    WAR 0vs CHF 0 19:40AS
    Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
    King 0vs Jagu 0 03:00NMBS
    BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
    BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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    Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
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    BRU 0vs RED 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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    HUR 0vs BLU 0 17:35WS
    REB 0vs STO 0 19:40AAMI
    CHT 0vs FOR 0 23:00FSS
    Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
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    King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
    Jagu 0vs BUL 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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    Round 16
    Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
    BLU 0vs BRU 0 17:35EP
    RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
    Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    LIO 0vs King 0 03:00Emirates Airlines Park
    CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
    WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
    FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
    Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
    BUL 0vs Sunw 0 01:05Loftu
    SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
    Jagu 0vs HIG 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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    Round 17
    Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
    BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
    RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
    Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
    SHA 0vs Sunw 0 03:00GpKP
    CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
    HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
    BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
    Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    STO 0vs King 0 01:05DHL Newlands
    CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
    Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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    Round 18
    Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
    TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
    TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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    TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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    Super Rugby 2016
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Blues 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0 0
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    Super Rugby 2016
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Force 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0
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    Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0
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