NSW copped a bit of flak last year for dumping Rob Penney, with the theory being that the coach was simply the victim of a dysfunctional organisation and flawed recruitment policy. There is some truth in those arguments, but they never topped the obvious need for coaching change – it wasn’t working under Penney.
The Waratahs’ loss to the Brumbies on Saturday showed they still have limitations, but they are delivering exactly what new coach Darren Coleman said they would at the start of the season: they’re in the fight.
No.8 Will Harris will rightly win some plaudits for his fine game in Canberra, but look at players such as Hugh Sinclair and Jed Holloway on Saturday. They look like tough, proud rugby players again. The joint is being turned around.
2. Refs are being too soft on head-high contact
There were a couple of incidents at the weekend where the sanction for head-high contact (or non-sanction) was noticeably lighter than what has been in place for the past few years. The first involved shots by the Waratahs’ Charlie Gamble and Harry Johnson-Holmes on James Slipper after 27 minutes on Saturday, which left the Wallabies No.1 on the ground and in need of an HIA.
Under a northern hemisphere referee, I can guarantee you that incident would have produced a yellow card for Gamble – at least – and possibly a yellow card for Johnson-Holmes, but Nic Berry and his officials didn’t even award a penalty.
The other incident – Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on Brynard Stander – was greyer
…. to be continued
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