Waratahs' coaches take no prisoners - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Waratahs’ coaches take no prisoners

Waratahs’ coaches take no prisoners

If the Waratahs thought their coaches would ease them back into Super Rugby training after the Christmas break they were sadly mistaken. There was no happy new year because they got hammered`in their first training session of 2013. 

Spot the hippie

Spot the hippie

That included those Wallabies who came back to training a week before they were due. Benn Robinson, Dave Dennis, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Paddy Ryan and the big signing, Michael Hooper, all got some hill-training work at Centennial Park as a reward for showing up early.

What they did

Assistant Coach Alan Gaffney had all the players going through the same set of exercises on passing with their bodies square and doing everything at pace. He was hard to please; no doubt unhappy about the Tahs passing and catching last year. At one point he had a current Wallaby player sent to the corner to think about what he had to do. The player was better when he returned.

This was the tone of the coaches in the first session of the year. Players were asked to choose if they wanted to concentrate on what they were doing, or to feed the ducks at Centennial Park.

Sticky fingers

Sticky fingers Mitchell

The no bullshit Cheika was in their faces all the time and did not bother using polite language.

Cheika had them working on deception before they got the ball and running challenging lines of attack. They all had to help to create gaps because anybody could just pass the ball to the next fellow .

Bob Dwyer, a Randwick mate of Gaffney and Cheika, is doing in tough in hospital at the moment, but would have been pleased had he been able to be at training to see those things being practised.  He would have enjoyed watching the slick hands drill also, and would have given Bernard Foley or Israel Folau the Mark Ella award had there been one.

Later, when the Wallabies were enjoying a few relaxing hill runs, the others were having a one on one contact contest. AJ Gilbert won the final against another invited player, David Hickey. AJ has been impressive since training started at the end of last year.

 Rucking good fun

Then they had a series of exhausting rucking drills and Cheika told them not to worry if they didn’t get it right that day because they would be doing it for the rest of the month.

Who's your Daddy?

Who’s your Daddy?

He said there was one chance at every breakdown to win the collision contest and they had to get it right because that was what the Kiwis would be doing every day.

Who will be the captain?

Coaches prefer their captains to be forwards, other things being equal, but although the Waratahs have experienced players up front there is not one candidate who stands out. Natural leaders like Pat McCutcheon and Damien Fitzpatrick are not assured of a starting spot and are unlikely to be fit enough to start playing in the first month of the competition anyway.

Benn Robinson, the affable 2012 stand-in captain, is probably the front-runner but other possibilities are Dave Dennis, who may be the lineout general, and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

The best on-field skipper though, could be a back – Berrick Barnes. He is not shy about bossing folks.

Will Benn be the skipper again?

Will Benn be the skipper again?

Cheika was no help in reading the captaincy tea leaves. He was chuffed that Robinson chose to front up a week early, and that would be well regarded, but he wanted to have a look at everybody.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the skipper wasn’t announced until the last trial match, against the Crusaders.


  • Robson

    Mmmm sounds like Robbie Deans could benefit by attending one of these training sessions. As a participant I mean, not an observer!

  • Morsie

    Every year at around this time I start to dream of the Waratahs playing a brand of rugby that is blend of beauty and the beast and that will see them right in the mix at the end of season – and (dare I dream even more) even winning the S15 title – now that would be something and I reckon i could almost die a happy man. Beauty in the form of scintillating, precise back line play, the sort of stuff the Brumbies with Joe Roff and Steven Larkham used to pull off, and the beast in the form of forwards playing with barely controlled aggression and the same precision. Every year the season starts with new hope. The pain, usually arrives by round 6, its a deep aching hurt that probably only Waratah supporters can have experienced. I really like the sound of Chieka. I used to love watching him play for Randwick and NSW, he was like Finnegan, just fucking mean and uncompromising and I really hope this is what he brings to his players and the game they play.
    I know it’ll happen but I’m going to put off getting too excited for as long as I can, – at least past round 6 – and even if it takes a couple of years to get there I like what’s happening.

    I really like Poidevin’s spray the other day too, some honesty is what’s needed around rugby, some good old fashioned calling a spade a ‘friggin shovel’ not this mealy mouthed shit that comes out of Dean’s mouth.

    • Who Needs Melon

      Darn tootin!

    • Johnny-boy

      I still reckon that around Round 6, the Tahs will be just about be completely burnt out after all those free Wallaby jerseys they were given last year without trying and then being flogged by Cheika. You’ve been warned :).
      All this crap about being a wallaby pack. Yeah they were the Wallaby pack but they sure as hell didn’t deserve to be and were only there to save someones arse (douglas aside)

      • Fark that. Keep floggin them i say. The more you flog em the fitter they’ll get. I don’t buy all that burnt out end of season tour shit.
        This year does feel a little different. Hopefully the no nonsense school boy coaching will pay off.

      • Bay35Pablo

        Bugger me Johnny boy, you are like a dog with a bone about the Tahs pack getting picked. Illuminate the rest of us who should have been picked instead of each Sky Blue last year?!?!!?

        • Jaded

          Hhhm about a few Brumbies e.g Ben Mowen or Reds e.g. Adam Wallace-Harrison. You know the two teams that beat them last year?

        • Barbarian

          Oh yeah. Imagine what would have happened if we had AWH in there. Even though he was a fairly average Super player and most experts (including our own Scott Allen) didn’t think he should get picked, I reckon we would have swept all before us, winning the Bledisloe and Rugby Championship in such a convincing manner that the 2011 World Cup would be taken from the Kiwis and given to us.

        • Johnny-boy

          AWH an average super player my arse Barbs. Take your blue goggles off. He would have shat all over that lazy teddy bear Timani. Robinson admitted a couple days ago he only got to full fitness in the last game of the tour. Typical Tahs silver spoon treatment. Using Wallaby games as fitness training. Greg Holmes would have been better. Schatz would also have shat all over that non enity Dennis. TPN should never have been starting over Moore. It’s a disgrace but what goes around, comes around. A silver spoon emblazoned with the Deans family emblem up your jacksy doesn’t make you magic.

        • Barbarian

          Come on Johnny, you forgot about Ed Quirk and Albert Anae! Both were cruelly overlooked for Wallaby spots all season. What an outrage.

        • Johnny-boy

          so droll …..

        • Redsfan1

          Did you see the final game of super rugby where the Reds smashed the Tahs in a 5 try bonus point?! So tell me again why the stash deserved to have so many players in the Wallabies? No idea. Just silver spoon stuff that comes with the Tahs culture of entitlement. Dave Dennis has done nothing in a gold jersey.

        • ooaahh

          Johnny-boy if Barbar is wearing blue goggles your always wearing red contacts behind red glasses inside red goggles sitting in a red tinted room.

          To be impartial whilst I agree Robbo was not fit and Holmes should have been picked I can’t agree on either AWH or Shatz… On lineouts alone Deniss is worth picking (not saying that we can’t pick better) but Shatz aint it (yet). Would have liked to see Mowen or even a fit Kimlin get a go at 6, a fit Palmer at THP. Possibly a run or two of Pyle or Neville instead of the new Brown/Maafu that is Simmons. Hell I’d give Wykes ago over Simmonaffubrownmcalman.

        • Johnny-boy

          Well I agree Simmons has gone off the boil ooaah and I agree even more re Mowen.

        • Robson

          I agree, AWH’s performance last year was anything but average.

  • Jimmydubs

    fuck, seems like tahs may become a decent side again. thats great for oz rugby, but terrible for my ability to pisstake on mexicans from south of the border

  • Nick

    Seems like just what the tahs need! I should hope all coaches work like this at super level . Seriously,Chieka reminds me of my old under 15/16 coach who had the whole team running suicides if we dropped to many balls. Thats rugby training for ya!

  • Redsfan1

    I have the same drivel about how good the Tahs are going to be every year.

    Why don’t the Mexicans just shut up and deliver in the season rather the Pre-season?

    I don’t see any of the other Super teams getting so much attention. The Tahs just think its their God given right to be hyped up. Watch them crash. Again.

    • Barbarian

      I’m sorry, but how does ‘holding a training session’ equate to ‘being hyped up’?

      I haven’t heard any brash or attention-seeking statements coming out of camp Tah. Actually it’s just the same stuff I have seen from other teams- injured players returning (there have been spreads on Horwill and Genia), a bit of leadership speculation (at Tahs and Brumbies), new signings (Force and Rebels) etc.

      So are they supposed to totally shun the media in preseason? Tell them to fuck off and not say a word?

      I am all for modesty and playing down expectations, but I haven’t seen anything even remotely boastful or hype-ish from Cheika or the Tahs. And that is what has filled me with a renewed confidence.

      • Redsfan1

        Within 2 months we have been bombarded about Cheika being a hard nut & future Wallaby coach, then Folau going to be aerial dynamo, now how tough training is.

        I don’t see anything special about this article other then it is the Tahs trying to show how tough their training is. I recall Phil Waugh boasting about their weights training in 2011, & the new stars of AAC, Elsom getting hyped in 2012.

        • Barbarian

          What do the Tahs have to do with this article? Lee just went along to a training session and reported what he saw. I found it a nice insight into what they are doing.

          As for being ‘bombarded’, yes there has been all the regular noises you get with a new coach and new star signing. There will always be interest there.

          The Tahs receive a lot of attention because they play in the biggest city in the country, which is a traditional centre for our game. The Sydney media pay them a lot of attention, as they should.

          I have no problem with them getting a lot of pre-season coverage in Sydney, it’s a great thing to build interest in the season. I only get annoyed if they are actually quoted as saying stupid shit, which is yet to happen IMO.

        • brumby runner

          I get most of my news and information on Australian S15 teams on this website. There has been a lot of hype surrounding the appointment of Cheika as coach and what that will do, is doing, for the Waratahs. Seems like I’ve heard it all before about Foley’s appointment a couple of years ago. I hope it will be different this time around, but with virtually the same playing group, I’ll wait to see.

        • Bay35Pablo

          Reporting does not equal hype. Fark, if there wasn’t any reporting we’d all be complaining rugby wasn’t getting any press. I’ll take any positive coverage I can get in the Sydney media. At least it isn’t our stars getting busted having a fight/blowing DUI/pissing in an alley (leaving aside Phil Waugh getting busted for the DUI the other night, he doesn’t count – he’s retired).

        • Morsie

          I consume what ever information I can get on any one of the Australian Super 15 teams. They all feed into the one team that matters the most, the Wallabies. 5 strong provinces means a strong Wallabies and if a new coach can get a better performance out of a bunch of badly underperforming players we might all have a win when the Lions turn up. Isn’t that what Mackenzie did with Queensland – at the time he took over they’d been at the very bottom of the Super table for a few years, or doesn’t your memory go back that far. A strong Queensland is good for Australian rugby. A strong Queensland and a strong Waratahs and a strong Brumbies, Rebels and Force is what we should all be cheering for.

          So what if there’s a story about the Waratah training session, how does that affect you? Don’t read it if you don’t like it. Pretty sure Cheika is a long way behind Mackenzie and White for the Wallaby coach’s position.

        • Redsfan1

          It doesn’t effect me but I do get rather tired of all the attention on NSW. It’s supposed to be an Australian rugby website. Last time I checked Qld pissed on NSW for members & crowds. And what about the Force & Rebels?
          Just because Sydney is the biggest city meaning they should get the most attention is bullshit.

        • We’re a little short staffed of talented people willing and able to work for no money.

          Would love to have a Lee Grant working on each of the teams….

        • david baldwin

          I will see if i can pop into Reds training – would hate to steal Timmsy’s job though…

        • Go for it, Timmsy’s a little busy with the day job these days

        • Bay35Pablo

          Go write an article on the Reds then. If it’s decent Rowley will publish it.

        • ‘BoutBloodytime

          Love to read your report on the Reds next week mate…create some attention on the Reds instead of complaining about someone like Lee going to a training session & commenting on what he saw (especially when it’s something besides the mainstream SMH drivel)…at the end of the day, the more rugby publicity, the better, for our code, our teams & if it creates a bit of rivalry & competition for positions on the park as well as coaching positions, then the Wallabies can only be stronger for it…and if it helps to create some speculation to remove a kiwi from the Wallabies head job, then I’m all for it.

  • Tyrone ManBarryLeaZiak

    I’m a big Tahs fan, but the level of hype surrounding the arrival of Michael Cheika (Cheik the Sheik) at the Waratahs is absolutely ridiculous. So we now have basically the same squad with the addition of Hooper and Folau . . .

    Anyone remember the hype when Rogers and Tuqiri came into the squad (not to mention Sailor)? Turns out nothing really changed and the Tahs were yet again a bunch of distracted also-rans during their tenures.

    Then there was that drivel about the ARU only perservering with Robbie Deans for another year so that the Sheik could have a season at the Tahs before moving straight into the Wallabies Head Coach role!
    Someone remind me why the Sheik deserves this armchair ride from the media? In truth, and like the last saviour they signed – Sarel Pretorius – he’s being set up to fail.

    • Bay35Pablo

      I don’t see hype. In fact it seems very softly softly in an attempt to avoid the last 643 hypes that collapsed.
      Most Tahs fans are down by their beds every night praying this will be the year. Finally. And hoping they don’t jinx it. Again.

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

        I was wondering myself where all this supposed ‘hype’ was and thought I must have missed some articles somewhere.

        TBH I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve read about the Tahs, the coach, new recruits and training. There’s a lot there that could have been turned into an opera with a bit of effort. Instead it all seems a nice balance between caution and optimism.

        Frankly I can’t imagine too many Tah fans even allowing themselves the luxury of getting too excited considering the team’s history and broken promises. Let’s face it, Cheika, the team and the whole Waratah set-up has much work to do before confidence returns to the fans.

        • Robson

          It’s just rugby news isn’t it? Hell, the Society for Over 80 Left Handed Marbles Players” would give their eye teeth for some news..

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Robo – I am greatly heartened to learn that you’ve actually heard of the other sport that I follow, known affectionately as South Paw Gummies & Tom Bowlers Association. This news will greatly excite them.

          Mmm. On second thoughts perhaps I’d better not tell them. ;-)

    • Tahzan

      So are you saying the Waratahs squad is inept? I would have thought prioir to Foley’s appointment that the Waratahs had a recent run of success and heir squad had only gotten better since then? Has Link’s appointment at the Red’s not proven the coach is key to success? Certainly seems to be the thred of many posters on GAGR when viewing the Wallabies fortunes. Why is it the Waratas squad is the issue but in the Wallabies it’s the coach. I think the reporting on Chieka’s style is simple plain recording of what people are witnessing – some would even say educational and interesting – liek the articles on Alexander, Genia, Horwill? Some of the folk on this trhead should take chill like and start considering just what actually might happen when Link takes the Wallabies Job…… It could be a retrun to the Monney days right?

      • Morsie

        Not to mention the Quade Cooper soap opera – that used 80% of all the reds allotted free space this year, and when he gets the tripe whacked out of himself in the ring there will go the other 20% which means we won’t hear another thing about the friggin reds this year, you beauty. Except perhaps when Link gets promoted to the Wallabies job.

  • JimmyC

    Great article Lee. Too bad about the rubbish posts from some. People need to realise this is not a NSW v QLD thing.

    • Johnny-boy

      Yes it is ! Typical Tahs attitude. Ooooo dont criticise the Tahs. They’re too precious. Interstate rivalry is alive and well buddy.. Supporters in other states are busting to get at the Tahs. This is the year the arrogant Tahs are the hunted, with every other state busting to smash them off their fake green and gold tipped silver pedestals.

      • JimmyC

        Mate your dribble and lack of knowledge about the situation is ridiculous.Did you forget that Shatz was in the Wallabies squad and in line for a start after Dennis and Higginbotham both stank it up against NZ. Based on S15 form Dennis deserved first crack granted he failed but then Shatz got injured.

      • Jaded

        Totally agree Johnny. some Tahs fans are almost as delusional as their team if they think they deserved to get picked as Wallabies. But Sydney knows best- must be why they came 11th & they get booed by their own crowds.

  • Shtinatina

    I’d like to see Dave Dennis or TPN as captain.

  • sheekabout

    Well, NSW had to turn it around one of these years & 2013 under Michael Cheika is as good a year as any to do it…..

  • TyroneManBarryLeaZiak

    Ok, so here’s a (very small) example of the hype:

    Cheika hits the ground running with Waratahs –

    ‘Long-suffering Waratahs fans are tired of mindless kicking and negative play. They want to see the team run the ball.
    Michael Cheika, who has replaced Michael Foley as Waratahs head coach, has running rugby in his DNA.’

    Davis and Cheika to revitalise Waratahs – http://tensport.com.au/news/theroar/Rugby-Union-Davis-and-Cheika-to-revitalise-the-Waratahs.htm

    ‘The combination of Roger Davis and Michael Cheika has swept through the stagnant and negative NSW Waratahs organisation like a breath of fresh air’

    Israel Folau excited by Waratahs coach Michael Cheika’s attacking approach – http://www.news.com.au/sport/rugby-gold/israel-folau-excited-by-waratahs-coach-michael-cheikas-attacking-approach/story-fndpt9s1-1226536398480

    ‘Cheika makes no apologies for his hot-blooded style, and he scared Moore Park’s birds off their perches with a withering lecture to his players in the middle of a training run . . . Folau is thrilled at the prospect of Cheika’s approach and believes he can have plenty of success in the Waratahs backline.’

    I could post at least another 20 hyped up Waratahs stories. If you really think that we can lay the disaster of last season squarely at Axel Foley’s feet, you’re delusional.

    • Jaded

      Yes it’s a joke. The Aussie Conference will be hotly contested by Reds & Brumbies. The Rebels I actually think will be big improvers- they have a massive forward pack & talented backs. Tahs will be average at best. NZ & SA will Most likely still run rings around I’m sad to say.

    • Yeah, we’re going to stop writing anything about the Tahs on this site to fix this dreadful imbalance

      • TyroneManBarryLeaZiak

        Wait, I wasn’t making a criticism of GAGR’s reporting on the Waratahs – In fact I welcome stories about my favourite team.

        What I was trying to point out is that, as in every other year since the advent of Super Rugby, the NSW press (the media outlets quoted, for example) is hyping up the Waratahs to the usual level of pre-season hysteria; in effect, setting them up to fail (yet again).

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