WARATAHS SEASON REVIEW - Part Two - Green and Gold Rugby
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WARATAHS SEASON REVIEW – Part Two

WARATAHS SEASON REVIEW – Part Two

COACH AND PLAYER RATINGS

HEAD COACH:

There’s an old management saying, known as the Peter Principle, that holds a germ of truth – that everyone gets promoted till they find their level of incompetency. So how was it that a very good Assistant Coach, liked and respected by all, was promoted to Head Coach and performed so poorly? Maybe the Peter Principle in practice. People still talk about Gibson with respect and say he is still the man to lead NSW next year. But I really don’t see how he can survive this year’s results. He’s in his second year, the team missed the finals last year and appears to be steadily going backwards. He had all the resources and selection freedom that Wessels in WA didn’t have with more current Wallabies than anyone else and yet his team has been comprehensively beaten by almost everyone.

Rating: 1

ASSISTANT COACHES:

Cameron Blades: Already sacked as the fall-guy for the forward’s performance, (or he had to make way for Cron the new broom); he seemed to do OK with the set piece given the talent he had to work with.

Rating: 5

Nathan Grey: Another coach whose performance has dropped year-on-year since 2014. The defence was awful this year and the systems were so porous that it was perplexing no one could see it.

Rating: 2

Chris Malone: Brought in this season as attack coach, when the Waratahs attacked well they were pretty lethal. Backline skills were less than good but they still scored a lot of tries.

Rating: 6

Jordan Troester and John Dams: Between them responsible for Strength and Conditioning and Athletic performance. Didn’t deliver.

Rating: 3

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

FORWARDS:

Tom Robertson Promoted beyond his capabilities. Should not be starting, let alone a Wallaby. Will develop but not yet ready yet and needs another couple of years. Should be the Waratah backup tight head.  4
Paddy Ryan Has reached his level of competency and doesn’t look like progressing further. A good squaddie though.  5
Tolu Latu Played very well in a beaten pack as the fetcher we needed. Copped plenty of attention from Sir as most fetchers did this season.  Strange suspension for missing training in round 16 and supposedly unfit?  7
Damien Fitzpatrick Was OK as back-up hooker, but he did not put pressure on for a starting spot.  5
Hugh Roach Doesn’t lack for courage or enthusiasm but just not physically imposing.  4
Sekope Kepu The rock on which the pack depends. Scored a prop’s try for the ages.  7
Angus Ta’avao Why did we buy him? Has not developed as hoped.  3
Dean Mumm Selected out of position at lock for virtually his whole career. Should have been selected at 6 but we had no other loose head locks. Gave away a lot of stupid penalties at the ruck and elsewhere.  4
Will Skelton Towards the end of the season when he was uninjured and fit he had several outstanding performances. Just when he has finally developed into the player we had always hoped for, he’s off to England.  8
Dave McDuling Hard working journeyman who never quite developed to his early potential. Bench player only.  5
Senio Toleafoa Tried and found wanting.  3
Ned Hanigan Used as a lock, but has not developed the strength required for this position. Promoted beyond his capabilities, his missed tackle count was frequently disastrous. He will be a very good 6 with increased strength and an extra 10kg, but not this year.  4
Michael Wells Fought his way to starting 8, but just does not have the ability to impose himself on the game. Sad, because the attitude is right but he lacks the core requirements. Needs 10kg and explosive power to develop.  5
Jed Holloway Huge disappointment. Came back from injury not the same player he was last year. Needs more raw power and to work better in the tight.  3
Michael Hooper An enigma. He bleeds for the Tahs, his efforts each week are an example to all. His lack of ability to impose himself always means that others have to take up the slack over the ball. Tries to lead by example but doesn’t have enough respect from the other players to impose discipline. Manages referees poorly as captain.  7
Jack Dempsey Injured for part of the season, but yet another Energiser Bunny who lacks the bulk and strength to impose himself on the opposition. Will come good in time but needs to develop power and size.  4
A celebration too soon vs the Kings. Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

A celebration too soon vs the Kings. Photo courtesy of Keith McInnes

BACKS:

Jake Gordon After a stellar NRC he ended up the number one choice halfback with Phipps’ drop in form and subsequent injury. Primarily a running halfback, he presents as the opposite of Phipps – passing reasonable but slower to the breakdown and negligible cover defence. Good breakout season but needs to work on his speed, fitness, passing and field coverage.  7
Nick Phipps Despite his inherent likeability, he had a bad season. Supplanted by Gordon, he was injured in the second half. He will bounce back – I expect him to be the bench half for the Wallabies, but he has to do more work on his passing.  4
Matt Lucas Probably the most balanced half in the team, and certainly the best leader/talker, he was sometimes off the pace in his finisher appearances. Off to the Brumbies where I predict he will thrive.  6
Bernard Foley Once he was fully match fit after the pre-season injury, he was his usual stellar self. As a running 10 he needs another playmaker beside him and some of Horwitz’s games looked like him being that playmaker but Foley will view the season in hindsight only as good preparation for the RC and EOYT.  7
Bryce Hegarty The utility, when he was at 10 he did some great things and some no-so-great. Enjoyed more space at 15 till Folau reverted there, but never really nailed a spot down. One of those “almost” players.  5
Mack Mason Had a couple of games when Foley went down and looked pretty assured. Sensibly, Gibson left him out when Foley returned as he is very inexperienced as a 10 despite his promise. One for the future.  7
David Horwitz Turned my opinion around with his play at 12, and had a couple of stellar games. His last two games were forgettable, it looked like he was already off to the Rebels mentally. Not a great defender.  6
Irae Simone Touted as the saviour at 12 after a stellar 2016 season in Shute and NRC, he found the jump in class too great when he came up against centres as big and powerful as himself. Has real potential though and 2018 could be his year.  4
Rob Horne Used as the stop-gap winger/centre during the Folau experiment, he never really nailed a good performance. His trademark defence disappeared this year as his missed tackle stats skyrocketed. Off to England.  4
Reece Robinson Selected early on after some excellent trials form, that form declined dramatically. Wasn’t seen in the second half of the season. Seemed to want to chip or grubber kick whenever he got a chance, which was almost always the wrong option.  4
Taqele Naiya-ravoro Frustrating. One of the few threats to the opposition line but Gibson had no idea how to use him. Could have been a battering ram in the 10/12 channel but wasn’t used. Some games he hardly touched the ball – a waste, but not his fault. He has turning speed limitations on defence and can be caught out on the break, so needs the gameplan to be built around his strengths, a bit like NZ do with Savea.  6
Cam Clark Touted as a fullback, he played wing in the second half of the season reliably but without distinction. Lacks both pace for a winger and the ability to beat his man. Probably will vie with Kellaway for the vacant 13 position, they seem to be similarly skilled.  6
Andrew Kellaway First choice fullback during the Folau 12 experiment, as he was last year, but did not light up the field and had some forgettable performances. Not fast enough to be the flying winger, he probably needs to move to 13 and learn to make that position his. If Clark takes that, it is difficult to see where he adds value.  5
Israel Folau Selected at 13 for the first half of the season but when results were poor was sent back to 15. I think that move was just a coach who thought he had to do something, anything. Had some really good games just before the international window. 7

Not rated: Sam Needs, David Lolohea, Andrew Deegan, Brad Wilkin, Ryan McCauley, Harry Jones, Matt Sandell.

Irae Simone on the burst

Irae Simone on the burst

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

You would say of the Rebels and the Sunwolves that they are absolutely no hope next year, no matter what they do. The problems in those franchises are so deep-seated that they would need at least three years to rebuild. But that is not the case with the Waratahs. Next year all the younglings will be a year older and hopefully a year stronger. They need to bolster their ranks and change coaching direction, but if that happens they are finals candidates for sure. If this year was 2012, then next year can be 2013/14.

Gibson has to go and I expect the Season Review will accomplish that. It looks like Cron is the next long term senior coach as he appears to be on the pathway, but he needs at least a year as understudy before stepping up. So we need a coach who can step into the breach for a year, someone who can fill the role successfully but be ready to step down again. Perhaps Bob Dwyer, Rod McQueen or some other experienced retired head coach. Once secured, there needs to be a searching examination of the S & C and performance coaches to understand why we thought strength and power was an unnecessary distraction and make the necessary corrections to pre-season training.

I am saying this on the assumption that the Force will survive the cut. If they are to go, then we could do a lot worse than immediately bring in Wessels as head coach. Wouldn’t be good for WA rugby, or Australian Rugby for that matter, but with the ARU, who knows and he is clearly the best available Head Coach in Australia.

Then we need to spend some coin to get two power locks and a power 8. I expect the Rebels to get the chop and of their squad only Timani has the necessary qualifications. Taking Simmons, who is a free agent, means we need one more bruiser lock from overseas. He should be a marquee-quality Tight Head Lock. It’ll cost, but will pay in the long run.

Hopefully Chiek will see the error of his ways and leave the apprentices at home this year so they can get a proper pre-season.

  • Adrian

    Yes, all good, and good analysis. I’d only quibble over Phipps, who was very good in his last couple of games before ankle injury. I’d have him as a 6. I’d also have Hanigan at 6 for his year overall.

    Good points on coaches, but do you think Gibson will really go after the review?

    • Yep. That’s why I think they’re doing the external review.

      • Chinese Dave

        Mate, I hope you’re right. I like the guy, but he’s not head coach material, at least not in Australia.

        However, watch him go back to NZ, along with Taavau, and become a 7-title winner with Taavau SR player of the year (sorry, it made me cry to see Sam Lousi play well for the Canes when he was so poor and got so little time when he was with us).

  • Huck

    How is Tolu a 7. 6 pilfers for 16 penalties and two yellow cards. He missed so many tackles!

    • BigNickHartman

      The bloke wrote about 1000 words here and that’s all you’ve got to say

    • Referees were exceptionally hard on fetchers this year, some of those penalties were certainly not obvious, as was the case for other players. I justify the rating based on his performance, particularly in the first half of the season. He appeared to be the only Waratah forward competing for the ball. If he’s a 5 say, then other forwards probably need to be downgraded.

      • Huck

        Agreed on the harshness on fetchers, but isn’t part of the game adapting to refs and not giving away repeated infringements? He definitely started the season better than he finished it. The brain snaps such as tripping are a worry long term.

        Agree with the rest of the ratings, great article. Cheers Hawko

      • idiot savant

        You’re right about the refs concentrating on fetchers this year. George Smith was the most penalised man in Super Rugby.

      • Dally M

        Agree, he got pinged unfairly so many times just because he is built so low to ground and set that way for the steal.

  • Pearcewreck

    Great stuff again Hawko.

  • Chinese Dave

    Well done, Hawko. Very little I don’t agree with 100%. I think you’ve been a bit generous with Foley and Skelton, but in the core of it, you’ve nailed what my head heart and mouth have been screaming all year.

    Are you doing the review? Please say yes.

  • idiot savant

    Some outstanding observations here Hawko. I would love to see you employ your clear eyed approach to reviewing all the Australian franchises.

    I can’t help but think the ‘Hooper thing’ is a factor. How many times in the last 2 seasons have I read something along the lines of, ‘another outstanding performance from Hooper, another loss for the side’. I imagine players are probably a bit tired of turning up to training on the Monday after and hearing the coach say, ‘if you’d all played like this bloke we wouldn’t be in this situation’.

    Which keeps me coming back to two things – 1. Hooper can’t get the side to follow him into battle (as you have said Hawko the players don’t respect him). Maybe thats because the players are tired of him being referred to as the little angel and I’m not sure Hooper going public with a blast about his team mates fitness shows real leadership ability. It more likely shows arse licking ability.

    2. The way he plays is perhaps not the right model for a 7 in a forward pack to deliver the right outcomes for the team. He’s clearly a great tackler and runner and marathon fit. But he remains a shining light in a losing side over and over. Compare the performances of the Force pack with Hodgson or the Brums pack with Alcock in the 7 jersey for example. And as Ive said many times, the team is much more dangerous when Pocock (a natural 7) plays with him.

    All of this I know seems extremely unfair because he bleeds for the Tahs and the Wallabies and I have the utmost respect for him. And maybe the new laws will change everything and make his style of play the winning one in the future. I hope so.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I think you’re onto something here mate. I really like Hooper but I don’t understand his role

    • In 2014, Hooper was tripled with Palu and Potgeiter. That worked a treat. Its not Hooper on his own that is the problem, he’s fine. But if you play Wells and Hanigan/Dempsey along side him it all goes to shit because there is no one to do the backrow work that Hooper cannot do. What Hooper can do is unique, the closest equivalent in world rugby is Ardie Savea and even he is not exactly the same. But given that, you have to have two hard grafters along side of him, at least one of whom has a big engine and can jump. We are back to my point about balance.

      • idiot savant

        Agree. And thats one of the great things about Rugby. It is a genuine team game. Every decision on selection and strategy has consequences with pros and cons. And there are competing combinations of these between teams.

        And allied with this, I think some caution needs to applied in the analysis of what worked in the Tahs recent successful years. Super quick ball (on the back of great forward platforms) from Phipps to Foley, Beale, AAC, and Folau in their cups put a lot of points on the opposition. So consistently, that any failings in the forwards, particularly when they did not have the ball, were perhaps not that apparent. I think we forget just how good the Tahs strike power was.

        But without that and without the ball, its a different game. As you clearly point out the ABs strategy is to play a traditional 7 until the opposition is worn down and then unleash Ardie. I think thats the right strategy for a player like Hooper.

        • Adrian

          The super quick ball was decisive. Made available of course by the forwards. The key guy here was Phipps. Tahs missed him terribly when he was dropped or injured.
          In the 3 games before his last injury, Phipps was best performing 9 amongst Australian SR teams

        • Andy

          Under the type of game plan that IS described above, Phipps is a very handy player. It’s perfect for his strengths, that being fitness, speed to the breakdown, support play and solid backup defence. But once the Tahs lost the go forward up front and the quality out wide he wad forced to revert to box kicking and the like which is where he fails. It’s just not in his game

        • Brumby Runner

          Didn’t realise Foley, Beale, AAC and Folau played under the influence.

        • idiot savant

          If I knew how to insert an emoji (is that what they’re called?) of a wry smile (or even what it looked like), I’d do it. I think the idiom means ‘in great form’ and yes the etymology of the phrase stems from the enlivening power of tonsil varnish.

      • Andy

        Spot on. He’s not the issue at all. It’s all about balance which the Tahs and Wallabies don’t have. More so because they don’t have the players. And for the record he does actuallly steal ball. Check the SR stats. He was equal 6th by the end of season (or something like that). I saw him nick 3 against Scotland in the second test. He’s just not G. Smith, Pocock good at it but he does offer something.

        Also, if we had the depth that NZ have in the backrow he would be the ideal impact player off the bench. But we don’t have that luxury yet unfortunately.

        • Who?

          We did have that luxury, it’s just that everyone else realized that they weren’t in with a shot and disappeared (Gill, McMahon), or they’re on sabbatical (Pocock), or they’re being ignored (Alcock, Fainga’a)…
          But in 2014, the Tahs didn’t worry about the ball on the ground. They worried about winning the contact in the air. Drive past the ball in the air, and you don’t have to mess about on the ground. I’m sure that’s the Cheika philosophy…

      • Wallabrumby

        In a losing team more often than not the #7 is always voted as best on ground. In a winning team a good #7 will get some recognition, but not seen as best on ground.

        Hooper rightly needs to be sometimes seen as a contributing factor in Waratahs (and Wallabies) losing because of the style he plays and the way the dynamic of team needs to be changed because of him playing. He needs to be judged not by what he brings (or seems to do) rather what he does not do.

        Dont get me wrong, I think he is a great player (particularly Super Rugby) and a huge asset. But it does frustrate me that he does get off scot free when a team loses because he looks like he is Trying so hard.

        One problem with Rugby in Australia and our development pathway is we only focus on players who look flashy, run the ball, look like specimans, rather than results and work off the ball.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Another heart on the sleeve write up mate and while brutal in parts pretty much spot on.
    About the only point I disagree with is Mumm. I thought Mumm at 6 was the most ineffective 6 playing at that level of rugby and that at lock he actually provided more for the team.

    The Hooper thing is a real conundrum. On one hand he’s a great guy with a lot of heart and puts in 100% every game, on the other hand because he’s not doing the “typical” 7 role the balance of the pack always looks wrong and the forward dominance is never there. Personally I think he’s a poor captain and would be much better without that responsibility. I also think he should change his play and do more of the traditional ball winning role but I agree he needs a good 6 & 8 to balance him out.

    I hope the official review is at least as brutal and that the management put their “old boy” sight away and actually start looking past their mates to sort this out.

    • JimmyC

      KRL, mate the game has moved on from openside flanker from only being a “fetcher”. The skills that he brings to any team far out weigh the negatives. He can certainly pilfer when the opportunity presents and he is especially good a providing a dominate hit and counter rucking. If you are looking at ruck situations it is really the inaccuracy of the locks and other backrowers rather than Hoopers lack of work “on the ball”.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate I don’t agree. Don’t take it personally it’s all part of the site.

        I actually don’t understand Hooper’s role on the field. He seems to swan around getting involved sometimes and not at others with not a lot of consistency about it. Yeah he makes a few good breaks but I’d suggest nothing a back couldn’t do if they were there and he’s not fast enough to actually get away. I agree when he times it his counter rucking is very good but I disagree about him making dominant hits. He’s certainly a very good tackler but he doesn’t drive people back he just pulls them down.

        My main issue with him and Pocock is that I felt you actually lost more than you gained. You had additional pilfering, except that Hooper didn’t do it, and because Pocock was doing that you lost the 8 role and the loonies were unbalanced.

        • JimmyC

          Totally agree that it is unbalanced with Hooper and Pocock but you can’t blame the coaches on selecting the best players available. Also a fair amount of that needs to be attributed to others deficiencies rather than just Hoopers. Pocock isn’t a dominate defender or runner of the ball. That isn’t Hoopers fault.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I guess my point is that if it is unbalanced then maybe the selections are wrong. I mean look st Ardie Savea, one of the best players around but vs its on the bench because we need balance and if we pick him instead of Read or Kaino then we’re unbalanced and not as effective

        • JimmyC

          Australia doesnt have that luxury. We don’t have a 6 or 8 to even have that discussion.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Timani is a good 6 and I think McCalman is a good 8. You’ve also got Ross HP, Fardy (not sure why Cheika doesn’t like him), Timu and a few others that could be very good if they are coached right

        • JimmyC

          Sorry mate you have lost me now. Timani and McCalman are both grafters with no impact and average lineout options. Fardy has been left out because he is leaving. Timu has been hugely talked up after one average super rugby game. I’ve watched him play for Souths and he certainly is yet to show he deserves to be in a reds jersey let alone a wallabies one. RHP hasn’t been spectacular either but might be a goer in the future so I see merit in giving him a crack but he is certainly no Jerome Kaino.

          Ideally for me Higgers would have had a good season and he play 6 as he is the most dominate lineout forward in Australia with McMahon at 8. Now don’t give me the McMahon isn’t big enough rubbish. He plays like he is 20kgs bigger than he is. With Higgers not quite cutting it this season fine give RHP or Hanigan ago.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I do agree that Higgers should be there based on this years performance. I should have put McMahon in too as I like his play. I think some of the others show potential but certainly need work. What I meant to point out was that having 2 7’s on the field isn’t really needed

        • John Tynan

          It’s a good point, and I’ve always thought Higgers should be a 6 in Wallabies rather than an 8, but then you don’t get Fardy’s work over the ball and need a more traditional Aussie 7 and an 8 like Timani running the hard dirty linesaround the breakdown. That’s how my teams would play, anyway.

          It’s that “balance” word again.

        • JimmyC

          Timani unfortunately does run those lines. He is a six. Makes a heap of tackles does bulk clean outs but doesn’t have the impact as a runner.

        • Bakkies

          ‘Totally agree that it is unbalanced with Hooper and Pocock but you can’t blame the coaches on selecting the best players available.’

          Cheika is the problem in how Hooper plays. He didn’t fannying around in the centres as a ball carrier, tackler when playing for the Brumbies and before 2014 at the Wallabies.

  • EngineRoom

    Absolutely cracking right up form you mate. Read both part as soon as I could. No clickbait, just straight from the heart. Thank you.

    I think I have preached this before, but I think Simone will be one of the better players next season. Just remember that at the start of the year he was playing outside of Bryce Hegarty at 10. Also it was his first season at super rugby level. Another thing to note is that his former head coach, Simon Cron, will be at the Tahs next year so he might surprise some people, not me though.

    • JimmyC

      ER, do you think he has the capacity to play 13 with Beale at 12?

      • EngineRoom

        You absolutely read my mind. Before I read what Hawko said about the Kellaway/Clarke conundrum at 13, I though Simone would make top notch 13. This is especially considering that he would be working outside of Beale. Beale makes a lot of guys around him play much better than without him.

  • StewedP

    Pretty much spot on! Disagree on Skelton though.

  • Pearcewreck

    This 2 piece series has been fantastic, one of the reasons I love GAGR. Hawko, whatever they are paying you, tell them I said you deserve a pay rise for this alone.

    Also, will we see something similar for the other 4 teams?
    I suggest a season summary something like this:
    Brumbies – Started OK, finished crap.
    Force – Started crap, finished OK.
    Rebels – Started crap, finished crap.
    Reds – Started crap, finished even crapper.

  • Dally M

    If Gibson gets a 1, no way does Grey or the S & C guys deserve a higher mark.

    What the hell happened to the Sparta Science S & C program that they used when Cheika was involved and they were one of the fittest teams in the comp?

  • formerflanker

    Great analysis Hawko. Sad to see such an honest and accurate review say so little that is positive about our team.

  • Who?

    Great write up. :-) A few points?

    I saw rumours floating around with a name to replace Gibson… I’m not naming that person because I’m nowhere near close to the sources, but it’ll be interesting to see what plays out. There’s comparisons between Gibson and Graham, but I have to say that Gibson talks a lot more sense than Graham ever did.

    Skelton, whilst I’m very sad he’s departing, it’s a little unfair to note:
    “Just when he has finally developed into the player we had always hoped for,”
    Because whilst we all hoped he’d become the kind of player who’d ragdoll Brodie Retallick (as he did in the Chiefs game – multiple times!), the reason he’s off is that he didn’t learn to do that at the Tahs. He learned that at Saracens. Our hope wasn’t matched by the level of accountability and personal development provided to him. Sadly.
    And I agree with others that, if Gibson’s a 1, then the S&C Guys – and also Grey – should also be 1’s.
    And Gibson? I’m not sure he’s a great assistant coach. I get there was an element of scapegoating to it (in an attempt to save his own skin), but Blackadder (who I didn’t rate that highly – his predecessor and successor did better jobs with the same squads) did sack him…

    • John Tynan

      It’s a good point you make about what Skelton must have seen at Sarries to make him up and leave after a short term contract there, and with a world cup building.

      • Dally M

        I think it was more about realising where he was in the pecking order & i think he will be back in time to have a crack for the next world cup. Hopefully as a better, fitter player that makes the most of his size.

        • Who?

          He was a better, fitter player this year… He manhandled Retallick like I’ve seen no one else do. I think the time over there sparked something in Will, and he’s keen to pursue it.

  • Joe Blow

    It’s absolutely shocking that Gibson is still officially there and worse that Grey has been given the full time gig at the Wallabies. What kind of message are the ARU sending to coaches and players alike throughout Australia?
    It’s a fucking joke and Australian rugby will remain a laughing stock until we decide to set the bar much higher. It is very hard to watch rugby in this country turning into such a train wreck.

    • Tommy Brady

      Do you believe consolidation into 4 professional franchises is a correct step in the right direction? If so, who in your opinion should be the side that misses out?

      • Joe Blow

        Most likely Melbourne if one has to go. The Force have been a long time project that has brought rugby into the spotlight in the west. We have young local players coming through the ranks and a real sense of tribalism there with the Force faithful.
        In Melbourne on the other hand there is very little support for the Rebels. Victorian rugby players can always go to Canberra, Sydney or Brisbane to further their careers as has always been the case. The winter sporting market in Melbourne is so diluted and it is unlikely rugby will ever grab a decent piece of the pie.

        • Tommy Brady

          Interesting thoughts Joe. Thank you.

        • Joe Blow

          Thank you Tommy. There is an interesting article by McQueen on the Roar today. I really believe that we have fallen behind the ball whereby we used to be the innovators. The Australian rugby model needs a complete overhaul and new direction.

        • Tommy Brady

          Thanks – I will take a read. Change as we both know can be difficult to implement if there is resistance to making it. Guess we will see over the next few months.

      • Joe Blow

        More important than finalizing that is to ensure that the game remains strong in NSW and Qld. This is essential and the Tahs need a rebuild from the top down starting with their administrators and coaches.

        • Tommy Brady

          Do you believe Simon Cron can be the man to reposition the Waratahs in 2018?

        • Joe Blow

          I’m not close enough to know if he is the right choice. It certainly looks like they are lining him up to be the head coach eventually. I would suggest that having him in an assistant role for the first 12-24 months would be good as stated in the article. If the NSWRU could convince Rod McQueen or Bob Dwyer to sign on in some capacity it would help a lot. We need innovation and forward thinking rather than just throwing the next bloke who looks like he may be able to handle it in there.

        • Tommy Brady

          Seems logical thinking. But if Hawko here is correct then Gibson gets fired in the external review and the Waratahs will be looking for a new Head Coach. Maybe they secure a proven Head Coach from outside, but many here seem to imply Simon Cron will be given the opportunity.

          That will mean rookie coaches at the Brumbies and Waratahs. 1 year veterans at the Reds and Force and who knows for the Rebels. Feels a tremendous amount of pressure for some unproven guys.

        • Brumby Runner

          But the Brumbies will have an experienced set of Assistant Coaches at least. Can’t say the same for the Tahs.

        • Brumby Runner

          Think a temporary HC gig would probably go to Alan Jones rather than McQueen or Dwyer. Good luck with that.

        • Joe Blow

          Not sure that Jones is the one. They would not have to be HC. They could just oversee the direction of the team. More like a director of coaching for say 2 years.

  • Tommy Brady

    Congrats on some very high quality work over this 2 Part review Hawko.

    I still find it intriguing that a side with a core group of playing and coaching staff from their peak can allow themselves to slide from 1st to 14th in just 3 seasons.

    With the experienced Mumm, Skelton and Horne moving on, and your prediction that rookie Cron replaces Gibson as Head Coach, how quickly do you expect the Waratahs can reemerge as a competitive side again in Super Rugby?

  • Pclifto

    I can’t see the Tahs binning Gibson this year, though I think he should go.

    Cron is a 2019+ prospect and I can’t see the Tahs getting creative and putting in a stop-gap Head Coach for a year.

    If the Tahs were serious about change and learning real lessons from a diabolical season, they would have appointed someone well-versed in the game to run the review.

    I fear another underwhelming year in 2018, middling at best

Rugby

Grew up watching Catchpole and Hawthorne, then later the Ella brothers, on Channel Two on Saturday afternoon. Expert commentary by Cyril Towers. No better rugby education ever to be had.

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