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Former Wallaby Drew Mitchell weighs in on Waratahs axing coach as NSW boss looks to overhaul 'culture'

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Rebuilding the reputation and culture of NSW Rugby will come before the appointment of a new coach, Waratahs boss Paul Doorn says.


On Monday afternoon Doorn stood by the call to sack Penney after five consecutive losses, saying the next coach would be critical to the future of the franchise.

But to get the right person, the outside perspective of NSW Rugby had to be addressed as a priority.

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Jake Gordon | Waratahs Interview
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Jake Gordon | Waratahs Interview

“What we’re looking at with our recruitment and retention strategy is retaining the really good players we currently have,” Doorn said.

“We know we need to reach out and seek some additional staff for gaps that are clearly identified, so from our perspective, the coaching won’t be known when we make some of those decisions.

“We’ve got to create and articulate a culture that we’re trying to build around here …”

Former Wallaby Drew Mitchell was among those critical of Penney’s sacking, tweeting on Sunday night: “The coach was never the biggest issue … just a case of making a decision to make it look like something is being done.”


With an inexperienced squad that needs upgrading in almost every department, the NSW Rugby board has been criticised for using Penney as a scapegoat for poor results.

However, Doorn said everyone in the business has been held accountable.

Since coming on board at the start of the 2020 season, the Tahs have been through one of the biggest player drains in their history with Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Nick Phipps, Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Kurtley Beale, and Bernard Foley among the stars who have left.

Decisions to cut spending in response to the pandemic and uncertainty around Australian rugby also impacted the quality of players the Tahs have been able to field.


But even after a tough year, Doorn said the club expected more from the head coach and added that Penney was given enough time to show improvement.

“Rob would admit that we knew it was an inexperienced side to start with,” he said.

“From our perspective, we gave ample opportunities to demonstrate that and it wasn’t to be.

“We’re looking at results.

“Effectively we’ve had five losses this year, three of them record losses, so what we’re looking for is continued success from the playing group but unfortunately we didn’t see that this year.

“Looking forward we want to see continued growth of our players as we move through the last three rounds of super rugby AU and into Trans Tasman.”


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