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Not even Hooper can save the Waratahs

21 February 2022
super rugby au rd 8 brumbies v waratahs_michael hooper
Michael Hooper makes a welcome return to the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images.

The Otago Daily Times profiles the 12 teams in the Super Rugby Pacific mix. Hayden Meikle turns his attention to the New South Wales Waratahs.

Coach: Darren Coleman. No, you do not know much about him. Won Sydney’s famous Shute Shield with two different clubs, and spent time in Japan and the US before answering an SOS to join the Waratahs to replace Rob Penney. Highly regarded — but what’s that saying about a sow’s ear?

Star forward: Michael Hooper is back from a stint in Japan. Rugby is not a one-man game but genius Wallabies flanker Hooper is no ordinary man. The Waratahs will go as far as he can take them.

Star back: Looks like first five Will Donaldson will miss the start of the season. When he returns, his development will be vital for the Tahs.

Exciting prospect: Some league converts work, some don’t. New South Wales fans are hoping Tevita Vuna, who comes over from Manly, will be an example of the former. Played rugby as a kid and can cover the back three.

Random player from history: Matt Dunning. Who doesn’t miss Matt Dunning?

Wait, he plays on this team?: South African-born prop Ruan Smith completes the set by joining his fifth Australian Super Rugby team.

Nickname (rated out of 10): 8. It’s a very good nickname, evoking both the rural hinterland (fence posts) and cruisin’ on the interislander (the musicians). Wait, really? Yep, the Australian version of the waratah is a flower, the state emblem of New South Wales.

Jersey (rated out of 10): 6. A solid strip. The Waratahs have been in Cambridge blue forever, and they don’t tend to muck around with it.

Last year: Absolutely atrocious. Last in Super Rugby AU (eight games, zero wins), and last in Super Rugby Transtasman (five games, zero wins). Awful.

Predicted finish: 11th. Hooper’s return is massive but this is not a team that will be threatening the playoffs.

Republished courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.

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