NSW Waratahs coach Rob Penney says it’s unfair to compare his team’s Super Rugby AU match against the Western Force with the enthralling Super Rugby Aotearoa showdown also played on Saturday. New Zealand’s top two teams, the Crusaders and Blues, squared off in the match prior to the SCG affair, with the standard in the games poles apart.
The Kiwi clash was a pulsating affair, played with brutal physicality, skill and pace which left the Aussie derby in the shade.
But Penney said with the Waratahs fielding mostly a very young, inexperienced line-up, and the Force returning to Super Rugby for the first time since 2017, the two matches were never going to be the same calibre.
“What you’re looking at over there with the Blues and Crusaders – you’ve got two teams there who are mid to late in their cycle in terms of their game maturity,” said the Kiwi coach.
“The Waratahs, we’re right at the beginning of our cycle in the time that we’ve been together.
“You’d have to say with our game, although the boys are all desperately keen to play for Australia, it’s not the equivalent if you’re matching it, it’s not the same just yet.
“I think it’s tough; I think there’s a difference in the cycles.”
Meanwhile, Penney had plenty of praise for Karmichael Hunt, who came off the bench and helped turn the game the Waratahs’ favour.
As well as some big carries, the Wallabies back took advantage of the new laws to kick a 50/22 that helped set up a crucial Tom Staniforth try.
With NSW signing Kyle Godwin for 2021, there was talk that Hunt could be on the outer but Penney said he still had a lot to offer.
“Karmichael’s been gold since forever – he’s had 17 years as a pro,” Penney said.
“It’ seems to me that he’s got a deep desire to continue and that’s what we want to see.
“He’s doing everything asked of him and more at the moment , which is wonderful to see.”
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