Scott Johnson’s first day as national director of rugby finished on a low but day two gave him some reason for optimism as the country’s Super Rugby teams continued down their unpredictable pathways.
Hours after telling journalists on Friday that the Wallabies boast a fighting chance to win the World Cup, the flagship Waratahs team were undone in embarrassing fashion by the lowly-ranked Sunwolves.
If first impressions mean anything, Johnson – who is also a new Wallabies selector – would have pencilled a host of Rebels names into page one of his notebook.
Will Genia is probably spelt in pen but his halves partner Quade Cooper’s case for a Test recall is firming by the week as the pair pulled the strings against their outclassed former team.
Classy winger Jack Maddocks is the season’s leading try-scorer with eight, adding two more to his tally via assists from Cooper’s boot.
Coach Brad Thorn’s youthful Reds must bounce back in three straight games against South African foes if they are to lift from the bottom rung they share with the Jaguares and Sunwolves.
A week after stunning the Crusaders, the Waratahs were rudderless in Newcastle, crashing 31-29 to a Sunwolves team who preyed on their mistakes.
More mandatory rotation looms for Waratahs stars in coming weeks, including Israel Folau and Michael Hooper, their two most consistent performers who haven’t missed a minute all season.
There was a bye for the Brumbies, whose return next week is against the competition-leading Crusaders in Christchurch.
That’s a daunting prospect given how quickly the nine-time champions recovered their poise with a 32-8 thumping of the Hurricanes, turning their table-topping clash into a lop-sided clinic in Wellington..
The improving Blues made it three straight wins and clambered into the top eighth by seeing off the Stormers 24-9 at Eden Park.
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