Wallabies coach Scott Wisemantel says France still tough, selection, squad, Super Rugby

The Wallabies believe France will remain a force to be reckoned with despite Fabien Galthie bringing out a third string squad to Australia.

On Monday, Rugby Australia Director of Rugby Scott Johnson said France was the “most dangerous” nation in European”, but the Wallabies will face a side missing its frontline players.

Galthie, the former French captain who played in the 1999 World Cup final against the Wallabies, has picked a 42-man squad with just 167 Tests between them.

Between Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and his deputy James Slipper they have 205 Tests.

Yet the Wallabies are not talking down France’s chances even though only five of their 23 which took the field at home against Wales in their most recent home Six Nations clash will make the trip Down Under.

“They’re a bloody good team,” Wallabies assistant coach Scott Wisemantel said.

Wisemantel knows French rugby like the back of his hand.

Throughout Wisemantel’s two-decade career as an attack coach, where he has worked alongside Eddie Jones with England and Japan, as well as Jake White at Montpellier, he has spent years coaching in France.

France head coach Fabien Galthie has named a squad with just 167 Tests between them. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

So it was no surprise that he managed to reel off player after player as he tried to mount a case of why this French side can’t be underestimated despite the absence of Antoine Dupont, Virimi Vakatawa, Greg Alldritt and Charles Ollivion.

After all, a third-strength French side pushed England to extra time during last year’s Autumn Nations Cup final.

Yet anyone thinking the England side of 2021 or 2020 was humming like the one that made the World Cup final in 2019 would be kidding themselves, with their own fickle media bemoaning the dour style implemented under Eddie Jones since their loss to the Springboks in Yokohama as he tried to get ahead of the next trend in rugby but, ultimately, struggled this year, winning just two of five Six Nations matches.

“In 2019, everyone raves about our young (Junior Wallabies) kids; we’ve got six of them from the 20s, they’ve got three,” he said.

“It’s game on. We’ve got young kids, they’ve got young kids.”

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Scott Wisemantel says the Wallabies need to “win” against France. Photo: Wallabies Media, Andrew PhanSource: Supplied

But the reality is this Wallabies team, despite it also being in a development stage under Dave Rennie, should comfortably beat the French, who are coming off the world’s longest domestic campaign, which will only wrap up this weekend.

And after three frustrating draws in 2020, winning is exactly what Wisemantel wants.

In a refreshingly shrewd response, a far cry from the usual tripe about concentrating on the “process”, the Wallabies attack coach said success represented victory.

“I think winning, for a start,” he said.

“I think Australian rugby, we need to win.

“As a coaching staff, we’re under no illusions, there’s pressure. There’s always pressure when it’s Test match rugby.

“But apart from winning, we actually want blokes who are selected, we’d like to grow our base, so if there are some debutants in there, some young blokes, we need to equip them ready for Test match rugby so there’s greater competition into the next two years.”


Rugby Australia has been bleeding for years and only runs on the scoreboard can get fans and sponsors to take notice.

It is exactly why the RA board is divided on the best Super Rugby structure going forward because the trans-Tasman crossover competition saw the momentum gained from earlier in the season lost as Australia won just two of 25 matches against New Zealand opposition.

Sitaleki Timani says he has never trained so hard since arriving at Wallabies camp. Photo: Wallabies media, Andrew PhanSource: Supplied

One thing France does have is depth and this tour, like it did for England in 2017 when they toured Argentina without the majority of their first XV because of Lions duty, will only help them in the long-term.

“I think they’re building their team now,” said Wallabies lock Sitaleki Timani, who is in line for his first international in more than 2,000 days having returned to Australia from France after seven years in the Top 14.

“A lot of young guys that haven’t played much and now they’re in the team. They’re looking ahead to the future.”

Few internationals, particularly when the Wallabies are playing, are anything other than tightly contested matches and physically France will match Rennie’s side.

For the first time in years, you could toss a coin over who will start for the Wallabies.

Only captain Michael Hooper, No.8 Harry Wilson, fullback Tom Banks, winger Marika Koroibete and playmaker James O’Connor are certain to start.

Scott Wisemantel says Len Ikitau has caught his eye. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

In particular, who joins Hunter Paisami in the midfield is intriguing, with Matt To’omua facing stiff competition from outside centre Len Ikitau, who Wisemantel raved about.

“Lenny Ikitau, he would beat you in a phone box,” Wisemantel said.

“He’s dynamic, he’s fantastic, so he’s a really good foil with Hunter in the centres.”

Wisemantel said the selectors, of which he is one, were using a gold, silver and bronze system of ranking players at each day of training to help determine who would ultimately be given a jersey.

“We’re actually seeing competition,” he said.

“It’s just coaches at the end of the day talking within each other. Whilst we have a blueprint of roughly what we think will be the 23, nothing is set in stone at this stage.

“The competition’s fierce.”

Timani, who is competing for a starting lock position alongside Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Matt Philip, said it was the hardest he had worked at training throughout his career.

“Throughout my whole career I haven’t had any training like this from 6am in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon,” he said.

“It’s a good learning for me too, there’s a lot of stuff that we need to go through as a team and get an understanding of what we need to achieve in a game, especially against the French.”

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Simon Cron, Darren Coleman, John Mulvihill and John Manenti in contention for Waratahs coach job

Coleman and Manenti’s credentials are well known.

The former led Warringah and Gordon to Shute Shield titles before following several other Australians to the Los Angeles Giltinis.

Sources close to Coleman have told the Herald his family have not moved to LA as was initially planned, such is his interest in the Waratahs job.

Manenti is the current Australian women’s sevens coach and would be available to take the Waratahs job after the Tokyo Olympics.

He coached Eastwood to three Shute Shield titles and is still the director of rugby at the club.

Manenti also has the support of many powerful figures in Sydney club rugby circles.

Mulvihill, a former assistant coach at the Western Force between 2005 and 2009, has been plying his trade with respected postings overseas for much of the last decade.

Mulvihill’s most recent job was head coach at the Cardiff Blues but he stood down from his post after three years in charge earlier this year.


Prior to coaching Cardiff, Mulvihill worked in Japan’s Top League at the Honda Heat and Kintetsu Liners.

Interim co-coaches Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker missed out on the final cut.

In Wallabies camp, the Lonergan brothers are striving to become the first brothers to play a Test alongside one another since the Fainga’a’s.

Lachlan, the younger brother, is a strong chance of making his Wallabies debut given his strong season for the Brumbies and the position he plays in a side which lacks depth – hooker.

“It’s pretty obvious for us. It’s whoever puts their best foot forward at training and trains well. Whoever is in the best form at training is going to be selected on game day,” Lonergan said when asked if there was an early favourite to win the first No. 2 jersey of the international season.

“At the end of the day you just have to train hard, do what you do best and selection will come off the back of that.”

Ryan was called into the squad as a replacement for injured Waratahs captain Jake Gordon.

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Blues vs Highlanders Tips, Odds and Betting – Super Rugby Trans-Tasman 2021

Eden Park will play host to Saturday”s
Round 6 Super Rugby game between Blues and
Highlanders. The game kicks off at 5:05 pm with Blues heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Blues vs.
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Saturday June 19, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Where: Eden Park

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Blues vs Highlanders Odds

Blues vs Highlanders Preview

Many, many pundits predicted it and of course it has materialised – two New Zealand sides will contest the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Final on Saturday evening.

The Blues were unlucky not to make the Super Rugby Aotearoa Final, but they have been the absolute standout in this competition and are fitting $1.33 favourites defeat the Highlanders ($3.20).

I’ve run the rule over both sides, and you can find my complete Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Final Tips below.


They appeared to be in the box seat to make the Super Rugby Aotearoa Final alongside the Crusaders before slipping at the final hurdle, and the Blues will be eager to atone in the Trans-Tasman Final.

Having wiped the floor with the Rebels to the tune of 50-3, the Blues piled 48 points on the Waratahs in Week 2, but truly stamped themselves as the franchise to beat with a comfortable win over Super Rugby Australia finalists the Brumbies.

They followed that effort with a gutsy win over the Reds and completed their lead-up by beating the Force at home last week.

Given this match is scheduled to take place at Eden Park, their favouritism is understandable, but I’m not entirely convinced at the price.


The Highlanders have been the real surprise packets in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament.

They were let down by injuries and inconsistency during the Aotearoa season, but the flew the blocks in this tournament with a thrashing win over the Reds.

That effort was franked with gritty wins over the Force and the Rebels, before they put 59 on the Waratahs at the beginning of the month.

Last week’s win over the Brumbies was the ideal lead-in to this contest, and they are a live chance of winning at a lovely price.

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Blues vs Highlanders Tip

We’re tipping Blues to win at $1.37 odds.

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Rugby Australia’s Scott Johnson compares France to All Blacks

“They’ve always had talent but now they have a really gifted group of kids coming through,” Johnson said.

“They came through that under-20s system. They won two on the bounce and the rule of thumb is if you have two good under-20s teams on the bounce, you will have a good Test team in a few years time. That’s the rule of thumb.

“If you have a look now, they’re playing a traditional French style: ball off the ground, a very powerful game. They have a young, talented group of players that play instinctively and the style that people would perceive as traditionally French.

“They’re the most dangerous side in Europe. Without doubt.”

France have called upon almost all of the depth Johnson detailed. The 42-man squad that has flown to Australia features 22 uncapped players.

Defence will be key to stopping the French, whether it’s their best available side or not. And the defences of Australia’s Super Rugby sides have left a lot to be desired this year.

Collectively, Australian teams conceded an average of almost 40 points per game against New Zealand teams in Super Rugby Trans Tasman.

“It’s no secret that keeping opposition points down is so critical,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said.

“If you (allow) four tries, you have to score five to win and so on. If you keep them to nothing, you just need a penalty goal and as simple as that sounds, we forget it sometimes.

“Because we love the fantasy rugby of the world. It makes tries, try assists and everything look like the pinnacle.


“But some of the stuff that people don’t see that we might only see or none of your teammates see that can lead to a try or turning the ball over – we know how effective turnover ball is – that’s what we have to put importance on.”

Rennie has called two players into his squad at Sanctuary Cove as injury cover.

Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney will cover for fellow fresh face Feleti Kaitu’u and Irae Simone has replaced Izaia Perese, who suffered a subluxation of his shoulder in the Waratahs’ final match of the season.

Meanwhile, Rugby Australia plan to take the second Test against France – scheduled for Melbourne’s AAMI Park – to Canberra or Newcastle should the ground be unavailable due to the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.

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Australia vs France, Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Brumbies, Force, Rebels

Lachie Swinton will remain with the Wallabies even if he is suspended from the upcoming series against France because of his “competitive edge”.

But despite his brain explosion at the breakdown against the Chiefs on Saturday which saw him red carded, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie wants his players to play with the same fire Swinton plays with.

“We’ve got good men in our group, who when they cross the chalk we want them to become a different creature; aggressive and competitive,” Rennie told reporters after announcing his 38-man squad.

“I think that’s a big part of defending, wanting to get out to physically dominate to create opportunities for us to attack off, so it needs to be a big part of our DNA.”

Swinton, who was red carded on debut against the All Blacks, was one of three players named in the squad who might be forced out of the series, with uncapped centre Izaia Perese expected to be ruled out.

Dave Rennie wants the Wallabies to play with the same edge Lachlan Swinton plays with despite being red carded again. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Halfback Jake Gordon is also in doubt with a MCL injury and Brumbies second-choice No.9 Ryan Lonergan is on standby should the Waratahs captain be ruled out.

Explosive backs Jordan Petaia and Suliasi Vunivalu had already had their names scratched out after long-term leg injuries, but Rennie said both would return when fit.

In total, there are 11 uncapped players in Rennie’s squad, which is captained by Michael Hooper.

Waratahs outcasts Michael Wells and Andrew Kellaway are two of the bolters in the squad, but have justified their selections after strong seasons for the Rebels.

Wells, who can play anywhere in the backrow and has built a reputation as a rock-solid, hardworking loose-forward, was the Waratahs forward of the year in 2018 but was forced to look elsewhere only a year later after being offered a laughable contract for a seasoned pro.

Andrew Kellaway of the Rebels is tackled during Andrew Kellaway has been included in the Wallabies squad. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Kellaway, having left the Waratahs in 2018 after being touted for greatness as a teenager, has taken the longer route to the national team.

After leaving the Waratahs, Kellaway spent time in the English Premiership and in Japan’s Top League before returning for his second stint at the Rebels.

But his versatility and dependability has seen him explode into contention to play against France.

“Andrew Kellaway’s obviously come in late,” Rennie said.

“He fronted when it mattered and ended up getting a nod.

“In this group, we’re picking guys who we think are ready now.

“We want the young guys to come in and contribute immediately and not sit in the back and be happy to make up numbers.

“When you’re playing three Tests in 11 days, there’s a chance you’re going to go deep into your squad. “

Lalakai Foketi is the biggest shock in the Wallabies squad. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Brumbies hooker Lachlan Lonergan and Waratahs centre Lalakai Foketi are others who have catapulted into the selection frame recently.

Izack Rodda was one of a number of high profile players to miss out.

Other regular Wallabies to miss selection were Pete Samu, Liam Wright, Folau Fainga’a, Jordan Uelese and Tom Robertson.

Exciting uncapped youngsters Trevor Hosea and Seru Uru were left out despite being included in Rennie’s training squad in April.

After Australia’s Super Rugby sides were exposed defensively over the past month, Rennie emphasised the necessity of wanting to show a desire and willingness to enjoy playing without the ball.

“Between all our sides we’ve leaked an enormous amount of tries and so getting a real identity around our defensive purpose is going to be really important,” he said.

“We want to play a really attractive brand of footy and we want to play smart, so we need to make sure our skills are accurate so we’re not turning the ball over. We want to have a smart game through kicking so we can apply pressure, but we want to defend really well and so the quality of our tackling and our ability to get back on our feet is really important.”

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie talks to his backline during the 2020 Test season. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Rennie, whose Chiefs side built a reputation of being one of the best counter-attacking provincial sides in the world, added the Wallabies needed to follow Swinton’s hard edge and play on the limits.

“We’ve got a lot of young men in our group and for us to be competitive against the best sides in the world, we need to increase our physicality and enjoy that part of the game,” the two-time Super Rugby-winning coach said.

“We’ve got to get excited about having to defend for long periods.

“All the best sides in the world have an edge, we just talk about it as a dark side.”

Clubs represented: 12 Brumbies, 9 Reds, 9 Rebels, 6 Waratahs, 2 Western Force

Wallabies squad:

Forwards: Michael Hooper (c), Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili*, Feleti Kaitu’u*, Rob Leota*, Lachlan Lonergan*, Fraser McReight, Isi Naisarani, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain*, Lachie Swinton, Sitaleki Timani, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Michael Wells*, Harry Wilson

Backs: Tom Banks, Filipo Daugunu, Lalakai Foketi*, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Len Ikitau*, Andrew Kellaway*, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Tate McDermott, Andy Muirhead*, James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese*, Matt To’omua, Nic White, Tom Wright

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Dane Haylett-Petty leaves Melbourne Rebels as future plans revealed

“I have decided to finish up in Melbourne. Next year I’ll make some decisions on where I want to play.

“I said first [to the Rebels] that I think my time is up. I’ve loved my time in Melbourne and the club have been so supportive of everything. I haven’t played this year, so I don’t think they’ll be wanting to sign me on for next year. We never really had that conversation.

Haylett-Petty scores a try against Wales at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Haylett-Petty scores a try against Wales at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.Credit:Getty

“We just decided to come back to Perth, so that has taken priority at the moment.”

Sources with knowledge of the situation say Haylett-Petty is off to play in Japan’s Top League.

Asked what the future held, Haylett-Petty said: “Overseas is definitely an option. I’ve had a bit of interest.”

Having missed the Rebels’ entire Super Rugby campaign, Haylett-Petty was not selected in Dave Rennie’s Wallabies squad for the upcoming France series.

A move abroad puts Haylett-Petty’s international career in jeopardy.

As recently as last month, Haylett-Petty was keen to try and make it through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup but given his slow return from concussion and being under the 60-Test threshold for international players to be considered for selection, that seems out of the question.

“I feel for him,” Rennie told the Herald last week. “He’s a hell of a player in a position where we don’t have a lot of depth.”

Haylett-Petty, who is back into contact training, says he hopes to run out in Perth club rugby next month in what is a very different environment to the Test arena.

“I’d love to be there,” Haylett-Petty said of his omission from a 38-man Wallabies squad that was named on Sunday. “I actually had a call from Dave Rennie before he announced the squad just checking how I was going, so I really appreciate the support the whole time.”


In a week where Sydney Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner retired from the NRL due to ongoing concussion issues, Haylett-Petty is determined to continue his career, having been given no indication from doctors he needs to retire.

“I’m seeing specialists again. They’ve been reassuring, saying, ‘nah, not time yet’,” Haylett-Petty said. “We’re still learning to manage it. That’s definitely not the plan at the moment. Just taking each step to try and get back on the field.”

If plans to Japan do happen to fall over, there might be a spot at his former team the Western Force.

“If his health and wellbeing enables him to play rugby, we’d love to sit down and talk to him at some stage,” Force chief executive Tony Lewis said.

Rebels boss Baden Stephenson paid tribute to Haylett-Petty on Tuesday via text message.

“It was a real shame for Dane and the club that our captain wasn’t able to contribute on the field this season,” Stephenson said. “Dane’s long term health was always our biggest priority. Dane departs highly respected by his peers and everyone in the Victorian rugby community.”

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Blues vs Western Force Tips, Odds and Betting – Super Rugby Trans-Tasman 2021

Eden Park will play host to Saturday”s
Round 5 Super Rugby game between Blues and
Western Force. The game kicks off at 5:05 pm with Blues heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Blues vs.
Western Force
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Saturday June 12, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Where: Eden Park

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Blues vs Western Force Odds

Blues vs Western Force Preview

The Blues enter Round 5 of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman on top of the ladder, and a win over the Western Force will be enough to see them into the final.

The Blues’ have clearly been excellent in this Trans-Tasman tournament, but they weathered their toughest fight of the season against the Reds in Brisbane last week, and walked away winners.

Returning home and dropping in class, this seems a pretty open and shut case.

The Force have mixed their form in this competition, and they are simply impossible to tip away and against the competition leaders.

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Blues vs Western Force Tip

We’re tipping Blues to win at $1.04 odds.

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Why Dave Rennie’s new Wallabies squad is all about the 2023 World Cup

The announcement of the Wallabies squad to play France marks what Winston Churchill might have described as “the end of the beginning” in the four-year cycle between World Cups.

Players who missed out on selection in Dave Rennie’s 38-man squad will surely now be considering their futures. Those passed over last year could at least console themselves with the thought that Rennie was working from scratch. He had his own ideas, certainly, but he was also heavily influenced by Australian voices, most especially director of rugby Scott Johnson and assistant coach Scott Wisemantel.

This time, it is a different story. Injured players aside, this is very much a squad which conforms to Rennie’s vision of a Webb Ellis Cup contender. Some serious re-sculpting has been done. Two years out from a World Cup is about the time when Test coaches make the move from experimenting to locking in players and combinations. After all, September 8, 2023, the date of the RWC opening match in Paris, is bearing down fast.

Western Force loosehead Tom Robertson may have been the most conspicuous omission from the side but he was not the only one. Rebels’ halfback Joe Powell, that most honest of footballers, probably now realises that, short of an injury crisis, he will never be viewed as any better than the fourth or even fifth-best halfback in the country.

That is a slap in the face for a player who consistently is one of the better-performing members of a Melbourne side which, despite winning only three of 13 matches this season, still supplied nine players to the Wallabies.

And was there more to Izack Rodda’s omission than met the eye. Rennie insisted that when it came to a choice between a veteran and a rising star, he tended to favour the younger man. Yet 24-year-old Rodda – a starting Test lock at the 2019 World Cup in Japan – was excluded while fellow Force second-rower Sitaleki Timani, who will turn 37 during RWC ’23, was not. Given the messy circumstances in which Rodda departed Queensland, was Rennie perhaps letting more time pass before re-acquainting him with his former Reds team-mates?

Angus Scott-Young wins the ball at a lineout against the Waratahs.

Angus Scott-Young wins the ball at a lineout against the Waratahs.Credit:Getty

Speaking of the Reds, how will Angus Scott-Young view his own omission? He is one of the smartest footballers in Australia and already has made a reconnaissance trip to Cambridge to scout out his possible future. But he had put aside all thoughts of academia to focus on the Wallabies. There is no doubt that rival backrowers Rob Valetini, Isi Naisarani and Michael Wells all raised their hands, but it is difficult to see what more he could have done.

Pete Samu, who played number eight in Bledisloe I last year, Jordan Uelese, Folau Fainga’a, Irae Simone, Liam Wright…there are, in fact, 16 players who were named for the Wallabies in 2020 who have been cut from this year’s squad. More than a full team. That’s still an awful lot of quality players who now are in the outer squad for the World Cup. And the big money foreign offers keep on coming.

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Waratahs record losing run as season ends in defeat to Chiefs, Wallabies, Lachie Swinton, Izaia Perese

The Waratahs’ season from hell is over.

Their season was summed up in the stupid and needless cleanout from enforcer Lachie Swinton, who is now in danger of missing the three-Test series against France after being red carded in the final minutes against the Chiefs.

They have become just the second Australian Super Rugby team, after the Force failed to win a game from eight matches last year, to go through a season winless.

But unlike the Force, who were given a late SOS to re-join Australia’s four other Super Rugby sides three years after being culled, the Waratahs knew just was awaiting them and played 13 matches.

Their season came to an unceremonious end at the hands of the Chiefs, as winger Sean Wainui made history by becoming the first player in Super Rugby history to score five tries.

They join the Bulls (2002) and Lions (2010) as the two other Super Rugby sides to go through a season winless since the game turned professional in 1996.

Injuries have hurt the Waratahs.

The Waratahs resembled more of a hospital ward than a rugby club at season’s end.

The Waratahs went winless from 13 matches in 2021. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Interim co-head coach Chris Whitaker was asked earlier in the week if he was glad the season was about to finish, or if he would prefer to battle on.

He simply said, “Mate, we couldn’t keep going. We haven’t got enough numbers.”

Wallabies bolter Izaia Perese is the newest member of the walking wounded, with the centre forced off early during the loss with a dislocated shoulder which is likely to see him miss the series against France.

But their season of doom goes well beyond the 20-odd players on the sidelines, with the Waratahs paying the price for years of failed list management and board turnover.

Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn was in the Brookvale stands standing alongside three of the walking wounded.

He might have been putting on a brave face, but he has a significant decision to make over the next fortnight as the Waratahs start their interviews for next year’s head coach.

The short-list has been narrowed down, but each passing week they are falling further and further behind the eight-ball in both recruitment and preparation for next year.

What was abundantly clear from the opening week of Super Rugby, well before they sacked their coach Rob Penney after five rounds, and until the last minute of action was that their defence is well below where it needs to be.

The Waratahs conceded 557 points at 42.8 per match.

Sean Wainui scored a record five tries at Brookvale Oval on June 12, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

No professional team can win with a defensive wall that has more holes than a termite infested fibro house.

The Waratahs fought right the way through until the death against the Chiefs.

It was testament of a side that played for one another.

But what it revealed was the glaring shortcomings in their squad, which was green in their playing squad as well as on the coaching team.

Given the heavy injury toll, it showed something on the commitment of the men on the park that the Waratahs only trailed 14-7 at half time.

Wainui scored two quick tries to expose the Waratahs out wide, before Mark Nawaqanitawase climbed high to score a spectacular try.

The talented winger scored another two tries inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half, before the Waratahs showed some more resistance.

Tom Florence interrupted Wainui’s tryscoring bonanza.

Then another brain explosion from Swinton saw the Wallabies back-rower sent off for direct contact at the breakdown.

Wainui then completed his historic night out by planting the ball just inside the touchline.

While the New Zealand winger will be laughing all the way back home across the ditch.

For the Waratahs, the review is just about to begin.

There are green shoots despite their year from hell.

They have an up-and-coming loose-head prop who will be a Wallaby for a decade in Angus Bell; their back-row is mobile; and they have a couple of exciting prospects at fly-half.

But the Waratahs need to find some starch in the tight-five, particularly at tight-head prop, in the second-row and some experience in the midfield.

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Waratahs finish 2021 without a win as Perese’s Wallabies call-up in doubt

Meanwhile, Perese’s hopes of a Wallabies recall were dealt a potentially cruel blow as he trudged off Brookvale Oval in the 12th minute with a dislocated shoulder.

Sean Wainui scatters Waratahs defenders on the way to the line.

Sean Wainui scatters Waratahs defenders on the way to the line.Credit:Getty

One of Australian rugby’s shining lights this domestic season after returning to rugby from the NRL, Perese was taken to hospital on Saturday night on the eve of Dave Rennie naming his first proper Wallabies squad of the year.

His tackle on Alex Nankivell went wrong, prompting former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to question his decision-making.

“It didn’t have to be made,” Cheika said. “We saw it previously . . . Izzy Perese going in making tackles he doesn’t need to.

“He’s looking for the big contact – no grip, no arm around – so it’s really unfortunate because he’s been very talismanic. Very disappointing.”

NSW co-coach Chris Whitaker said: “He’s gone to get scans and he’s in a fair bit of pain. We’re the walking wounded.

“The boys have definitely earned a week off. Time to recover and clear the head and get away from the game a bit.”

Another headache emerged late in the piece when Swinton was sent off for making high contact on Lachlan Boshier.

Lachie Swinton was sent off for high contact.

Lachie Swinton was sent off for high contact.Credit:Getty

It was unnecessary and could result in him missing a portion of the international season, depending on how the SANZAAR judiciary reacts.

NSW trailed 14-7 at the break, with Jack Dempsey, in his final game for the Waratahs before heading to France, assuring the team was “working their arse off”.

It wasn’t a cricket score, but the Waratahs couldn’t hang on in a six-tries-to-one thrashing.

Wainui scored a whopping five tries and NSW couldn’t muster a second half point.

Four lost lineouts in the first half didn’t help their cause.

The horror run with injury – the Waratahs have more than 20 players on the sidelines – continued when prop Tetera Faulkner succumbed to injury in the warm-up.

Last week NSW were ringing around at Sydney airport to find spare props who could come to New Zealand. The end of the season could not come soon enough.

The Waratahs pose for a group shot after completing their winless season.

The Waratahs pose for a group shot after completing their winless season.Credit:Getty

Despite the result, the highlight of the night was winger Mark Nawaqanitawase’s leap and catch high in the air that resulted in a try.

But the 20-year-old’s defence is a major flaw and one that needs attention, as does the entire team’s. A number of tries were scored down his edge.

COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise for southern hemisphere rugby because it forced Super Rugby’s convoluted structure to be blown up.

However, after the turmoil of 2017 when the Australian Rugby Union reduced its national footprint from five teams to four, the Force are now back for good.

In 2017, Australian sides lost all 26 matches against their Kiwi rivals. It’s been much of the same this year, leaving officials surely questioning whether Australia really has the depth for five teams.

The two margins of victory, the Reds by six points and Brumbies by two points, is hardly something to cheer about.

If someone in 2017 predicted the Force would win four more games than the Waratahs in 2021, they would have been laughed at.


While the Waratahs were always going to struggle, the Reds and Brumbies four losses from five starts showed they are well behind the pace.

An Australian-only competition, in some capacity, has never looked more appealing after dull final rounds with waning interest this side of the Tasman.

The rebuild begins on Sunday for NSW.

Somewhere, a future Waratahs coach is watching on, knowing the only way is up.

Thank you for checking out this story about local and Australian Rugby Union news titled “Waratahs finish 2021 without a win as Perese’s Wallabies call-up in doubt”. This story was shared by My Local Pages as part of our national news services.

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