Wily Darren Coleman has detailed the lengths he reached to try to expose any “cancers” in the rank after taking charge of the NSW Waratahs at their lowest ebb.
To his surprise and delight he couldn’t find any, Coleman revealed in the euphoric aftermath to the Waratahs’ drought-breaking 40-10 victory over Fijian Drua on Friday night.
Losers no more, the NSW Waratahs opened the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific with a five-tries-to-one rout at Commbank Stadium that banished at least some of the bitter memories of last year’s humiliating winless campaign.
The bonus-point triumph snapped a 13-match losing streak stretching some 538 days since the Waratahs beat the Melbourne Rebels in their final game of the 2020 Super Rugby AU season.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve put on a performance like that, that we’re really proud of,” said Waratahs captain and man-of-the-match Jake Gordon.
“It’s been a long pre-season, it’s good to see the boys put on a performance like that against a challenging Fijian team.”
Asked what the Waratahs learnt during their depressing 2021 season, Gordon said: “How resilient the group is and how many actual good blokes we have in our team.
“To go through a year like that and not have guys back-stabbing each other shows the resilience in the group – and we got paid today.”
Coleman, in his first game as coach at Super Rugby level, said he was over the moon for his charges whom he admitted he’d put through the grill in a bid to weed out any potential trouble makers when he came on board late last year.
Coleman said he was surprised how the Waratahs hadn’t turned on each other during the dark times.
“I’ve been in losing camps and cancers get in,” he said.
“But I noticed that (solidarity) specifically when I had my one-on one chats with them (before the season).
“I caught up with every player for an hour and prodded a little bit on that and laid a few traps on who was irking you, who was getting on your nerves or who don’t you rate – and they’re all rock solid.
“They’re a good bunch of boys that genuinely like each other and they deserve that tonight.”
For how long remains to be seen, but the bonus-point win also elevated the Waratahs into unfamiliar territory as early competition leaders.
The Waratahs’ new-found character and resolve will face a stern test next round when they host Australia’s defending champion Queensland Reds at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night.