Dan McKellar feels Rob Penney was dealt a rough hand after the sacked NSW Waratahs coach became the victim of the Super Rugby club's alarming decline.
McKellar's Brumbies are bracing for an emotionally-charged Waratahs outfit to come out firing in their Super Rugby AU clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night.
Penney was sacked as Waratahs coach less than 18 months into the job with the club almost destined to claim the wooden spoon this season while the Brumbies fight for the title.
McKellar believes decisions out of Penney's hands "have impacted on Rob's ability to do the job he wanted to do", with the former NSW mentor adamant patience and resources promised to him were never delivered.
"He is certainly disappointed. He is an experienced, quality coach, he hasn't been there that long to be honest. He turned up at the back end of 2019," McKellar said.
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"I'm not in the inner sanctum there but there are some decisions that have been made over the past 18 months to two years that have impacted on Rob's ability to do the job he wanted to do.
"I feel for him, I feel for any coach that gets sacked. Like all of us, they've got a family, they've got a mortgage, they've got bills to pay, you don't like to see anyone lose their job.
"I sent him a message and let him know he'll bounce back. He's had a great career so far and no doubt he will get an opportunity around the corner."
The Waratahs' horrendous start to the season has rendered an average losing margin of 28 through five games, including a 61-10 nightmare at the hands of the Brumbies.
But many expect there will be more to come as pressure mounts on the NSW Rugby board, who it seems axed Penney to make it seem as though something was being done to stop the rot.
It emerged Penney and general manager Tim Rapp had a difficult working relationship. Experienced players had left the club in droves. Management wanted Penney to settle for a squad using $1 million less on the salary cap than his rivals.
It all built up to the point where something had to give. That something was Penney, who is left to feel like a scapegoat for a club with issues to address.
"I don't think it matters whether you're playing professional rugby, or working in commercial or community or wherever, whether you're an accountant, lawyer or whatever it is," McKellar said.
"You've got to drive through the gates of your own workplace and love and enjoy coming to work.
"If you're working hard, challenging each other and doing it in a respectful manner, and having a lot of fun along the way, then when it comes time to make the decision about whether I might go here or I might go there, you always lean towards staying because you love the club, you love the environment, and the program you're involved in.
"It's hugely important. As a coach when I first started out it was all about being professional and disciplined and challenge them, and nothing changes there.
"But I've learnt over time you've got to have a laugh, you've got to have plenty of fun, and make sure the boys are enjoying what they're doing."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND SEVEN
Friday: NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies at Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. Harry Lloyd, 2. Folau Fainga'a, 3. James Slipper, 4. Nick Frost, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White (c), 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Fred Kaihea, 18. Sefo Kautai, 19. James Tucker, 20. Rory Scott, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Mack Hansen.
NSW Waratahs squad: 1. Angus Bell, 2. David Porecki, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Jeremy Williams, 5. Max Douglas, 6. Hugh Sinclair, 7. Carlo Tizzano, 8. Will Harris, 9. Jake Gordon (c), 10. Will Harrison, 11. James Ramm, 12. Lalakai Foketi, 13. Izaia Perese, 14. Alex Newsome, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. Tom Horton, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Darcy Breen, 19. Michael Wood, 20. Charlie Gamble, 21. Jack Grant, 22. Tane Edmed, 23. Mark Nawaqanitawase.
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