Waratahs need 'more edge', Cheika says
April 8, 2013
Adam Ashley-Cooper (r) produced a strong performance for New South Wales Waratahs in Wellington © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs need to toughen up, Michael Cheika said after the side dropped two places to 10th on the overall ladder at the end of round eight following a 41-29 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
The Waratahs are five points off sixth spot, and they remain a distant third in the Australian conference, behind the Brumbies (29 points) and Queensland Reds (26), with their second bye to come next week after a result that ended a two-match winning run and extended their three-year overseas losing streak to 11 games.
"Obviously we want to have more competition points, but we're trying not to look too hard at the table this year," Cheika said. "We're trying to concentrate on really getting the identity of the team and the attitude of the team to a stage where we can contemplate becoming winners on a regular basis. I'm happy with the way the guys have been making an effort and that they've been reacting to the way I want to play. They probably are a victim of changing styles."
NSW showed against the Hurricanes tantalising glimpses of the attacking running style demanded by Cheika. Five-eighth Bernard Foley capped a strong display at five-eighth with a brilliant solo try, and fullback Israel Folau and outside centre Adam Ashley-Cooper each impressed and muscled their way over for a five-pointer. But NSW were undone by a lack of discipline and control at the breakdown; they conceded too many penalties and turnovers, and didn't capitalise on enough of the linebreaks and scoring opportunities they created.
The Hurricanes capitalised on Waratahs errors in Wellington (video available only in Australia)%]
"We've got to toughen up, we've got to get a bit more edge," Cheika said. "We've got to be able to finish a bit better. But I think that the seeds have definitely been sown, there's no doubt about it. I think we've come a long way already, I do think that we've improved a lot. We've obviously still got a lot of improving to go."
Cheika said his players had been training very hard and the bye would freshen them up prior to their next match against the ladder-leading Chiefs in Sydney on Friday week.
"It's been quite intense, too, quite a rollercoaster, up and down," Cheika said. I think they gave it their all [against the Hurricanes], so I don't think anyone can complain about the effort. They deserve to have four or five days off now."