Waratahs head for the hills - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Waratahs head for the hills

Waratahs head for the hills

The NSW Waratahs headed for the hills near their training ground yesterday.

After a short training session they trouped over to near the parking lot of the Moore Park Golf Course, but it wasn’t for a relaxing nine holes for the players: they had to attack the infamous terraced north-west slope and race against three team mates in pods of four—time and time again.

The session was part of the regime masterminded by the Waratahs’ Athletic Development Manager Haydn Masters. The Waratahs were one of the fittest teams in 2014 yet to this observer’s untrained eye Masters and his crew have done a superb job because the squad looks in better shape than it was a year ago.

This is in spite of there being a shorter preparation time for the 2015 season because of the late finishing date of the National Rugby Championship [NRC].


Haydn Masters working with Will Skelton just after he arrived at training


The players are putting in the work. Paddy Ryan, who was praised earlier by assistant coaches Daryl Gibson and Nathan Grey for his pre-season efforts, put in a tough session last Tuesday afternoon, appeared in Armidale with Tala Gray for a community event and a junior rugby clinic on Wednesday, and was back for the training session on Thursday morning.


Paddy Ryan – putting in the work


The Wallabies came back early in the new year for assessment but were excused for a while though Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne and Benn Robinson got stuck into contact work and hit-outs immediately.

Will Skelton beat them all though – he showed up not long after he got off the plane from Europe. He was rewarded by getting flogged on the sidelines for weeks. The extra work that Skelton did appeared to bear fruit yesterday. He looked in great shape and was a regular stage winner of his tight five pod on the hill climb.


Will Skelton – looking in good shape


New Waratahs, scrumhalf Auvasa Faleli’i, flanker Jack Dempsey, and the youngest Tah member, Andrew Kellaway, “enjoyed” the hill sprints and there wouldn’t have been too many faster up the slope than another newbie, winger Henry Cluines-Ross.

19-year-old Kellaway, whose non-identical twin brother Nick is with the NSW Under 20s as a second rower, was sensational on the wing for the Aussie Under 20 team in New Zealand last year when he scored ten tries in the tournament.


Sprint training for Michael Hooper and Sekope Kepu


Kellaway, known simply as “Kell” at the Tahs, was kind enough to answer a few questions earlier.

You must be pinching yourself just over a year out of school after your success with Randwick, in the Under 20s, the NRC and now having a Waratahs contract.

Yeah, it’s definitely been a crazy ride over the twelve months or so, but I’m absolutely stoked to have been offered a spot at the Tahs on the back of 2014 and hopefully I can have a good year in 2015 and learn off the more experienced players in the squad.

It will be great to get on the park with the likes of Folau, Ashley-Cooper, Beale and the other Wallabies, won’t it?

If I’m lucky enough to be given that opportunity I think it’ll definitely be something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Playing with and learning from those blokes would be a really special experience and something I hope I can work towards this year.


Andrew Kellaway assuming the position – is enjoying  the rigours of the pre-season


You’ve been going full blast since the start of the 2013 Australian Schools’ tour to Europe – how are you coping?

That’s right, there hasn’t been a great deal of down time over the last 18 months but I guess I’m running on excitement a little bit at the moment so I’m actually really enjoying the rigours of pre-season.

Have you moved out of home yet or are you still with the folks?

Nope, still living with mum and dad. I Haven’t quite come to terms with the whole cooking, cleaning and washing stuff all on my own yet so I think ill be here for another year or two.


Kellaway, not a great cook – would like to play outside centre


What’s your favourite position fullback or wing?

To be perfectly honest I’d prefer to be playing outside centre but I’m happy to play anywhere if that’s where I’m needed whether its fullback or wing.

If it came to the crunch: who would have first claim on you – the Waratahs or the Australian Under 20s?

I think that decision is something that’ll have to be made by the bosses based on what they think is best for me and for the respective teams.

You had a good NRC – what did you think of the competition?

I think the NRC was a great opportunity for good club rugby players to test themselves against proven Super Rugby performers and learn from them. I think it will help Australian rugby to really develop the depth needed to compete with the likes of New Zealand and South Africa.


Wise words from the young man. Because of the stable of experienced backs at the Waratahs it is not certain that we will see him playing Super Rugby any time soon, but we can surer that when he does get on the park, he will be in top shape.




Photos by Lee Grant


  • Derided

    Wow Skelton looks amazing. Good for him.

    • Bill

      Good to see and good luck to him. Certainly the best I’ve seen him. Hope he can keep it up. Not neccesarily being catty there, big bodies equals a big load on the joints. All the more reason to keep unnecessary weight off the frame.

  • Braveheart81

    Great piece LG. Always appreciate the updates!

    • Kiap

      Yep. Always good to get a look under the hood.

  • Jagman

    That “No Contact” bib looks a lot like all the others.

    • Chinese Dave

      Good observation! “Mistakes were made, ribs were broken” :)

  • Brendan Hume

    Great story Lee. Gee those padded suits look awfully uncomfortable and hot.

    • Lee Grant

      They’re like a steam bath – probably stripped a bit of weight off some – including Michael Cheika who swanned around on that day in the centres but didn’t man up for the hill run yesterday though other coaches did.

      I’m just trying to get the courage to ask him why he didn’t front up.

      • hugh

        Based on the last photo, you made it to the top @Lee Grant.

        Who was the winner of the Reporters/Observers Pod race to the top?

        • Lee Grant

          There were only three who bothered.

          One was there when I arrived but I beat the guy who was with me. He was carrying a bit of weight, mind.

          The other people stayed at the level of the car park which was mid-way up – but they couldn’t get a photo with the CBD buildings in the background from there.

  • Will

    Are there any writers based in Perth who can give similar insights into the Force preseason? Always interesting to see how each team handles the shortened preseason this year.

    Haydn Masters came from the Force and they’ve consistently had a very fit squad. It would be great for Australian rugby if big Will is finally fit. Cheika likes him but it was tough watching such an unfit player in the gold jersey.

  • Jack Mallick

    Hats off to Will Skelton and Paddy Ryan. Aussie rugby needs good strong fit tight five forwards (and good men) to win back the hearts and minds, and those two are willing and able.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Great to see that the boys are really putting in the hard yards to lift their fitness to yet another level. Anyone know if we get to see them run around in a trial, or with the shortened season if it’s straight into it?

    • Lee Grant

      There is an official trial game v. The Chiefs at Campbelltown on Friday 6 February, starting at 7.30pm. (There will also be a curtain-raiser between a GenBlue senior side and Aus Barbarians, starting at 5.15pm.)

      There is an earlier trial planned involving 3 x 30 minute hit-outs: one each against Sydney University, Randwick and Parramatta on 31 January.

      It’s not official yet because the venue is not confirmed.

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

        Thanks for that mate.

        I’d love to get my butt down to Campbelltown to cheer-on the boys and kind of ease myself into the season.

  • Guest

    They can stay up there lol. Can name a wallabies side just fine if they got lost.
    OTOH, Skelton and Keps looks yummy

    • Lee Grant

      That was weird.

      • jamie

        Agreed. I don’t like the tahs much anymore, not because their success, I just don’t

        • Chinese Dave

          Well thanks for sharing champ!

  • DomPar

    Skelton was probably the worst player on the NH tour, so I hope he gets flogged mercilessly. Even as a Tahs hater i’ll admit I want him for the world cup, lean and effing mean. I just hope he doesn’t turn into the next Palu, ie. good genetics, but terrible hands and permanently injured.

  • Graeme

    Got to say, Skelton seems to have lost the baby fat and is looking seriously ripped.

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