The Waratahs under performed in 2016 and would no doubt acknowledge that they could have and should have done more. A tenth place finish overall and unable to claim top spot in the Australian Conference meant that they had no place in the Finals. Winning the Conference this season must be the target for the Waratahs Super Rugby 2017 season.
A Tough Year for Australian Rugby in 2016
The fortunes of the Waratahs in 2016 mirrored that of the Wallabies at international level as well as rugby in general in the country. All of the Australian franchises struggled for consistency and form whilst the Wallabies were unable to build on their 2015 Rugby World Cup Final appearance. With a wealth of Wallabies in the ‘Tahs squad it should be no surprise that their form was so inter linked. Those star men including the likes of Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper and Israel Folau must now look to return to the form that got them to the top of their game.
Returning Skelton Looking to Make a Big Impact
The opportunity arose for mammoth second rower Will Skelton to ply his trade short term at Saracens in England over the southern hemisphere off-season. Whilst many players will have used the down time to rest and recuperate, he has been testing himself in one of the best set ups in world rugby. Saracens’ quality has been evident for numerous seasons and that has come from sheer determination and hard work. Something that Skelton will hopefully bring back to the Waratahs in his training ethos and begin to make strides himself in Super Rugby.
Second Season Pressures
Daryl Gibson will be taking charge as Head Coach of the Waratahs for just the second season since his promotion due to the departure of Michael Cheika. Whilst 2016 saw his side struggle he still has the potential to lead this ‘Tahs squad to success. He has astutely recruited from within the franchises’ ranks as he seeks the right blend to compliment his star men on the field. Indeed 83% of his squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season comes from New South Wales.
The Waratahs face a particularly tough start to the 2017 season as they head out on the road to South Africa in Rounds Two and Three. A win in the opening Round over the Force at home is a must, if they are to have any hope travelling to face the Lions and Sharks. In some respects, however, their difficult start could be a blessing in disguise as they get the South African tour out of the way early and can focus on the remainder of the season closer to home.
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