Waratahs assistant coach Chris Whitaker believes their heart-breaking loss to the Brumbies will ultimately help, not hinder, their Super Rugby AU campaign.
The Waratahs looks headed for an upset victory over the competition heavyweights on Saturday night before a late converted try secured the Canberra team a 24-23 win.
Whitaker said while the general feeling was “bitter disappointment”, they could already see positives in the performance, particularly with so many youngsters in key positions.
“I thought we did enough in the game to win it,” said Whitaker, the former Wallabies halfback.
“There were periods where we played some really good football; the game plan worked really well – it’s just that ability to close those games out.
“We are learning each game and have gotten better each week and the boys have taken a fair bit of confidence out of it.”
The next conquest for the Waratahs are Melbourne, who they host at the SCG on Friday ni ght.
Halfback Jake Gordon and centre Lalakai Foketi could make their first appearance in the domestic competition, adding some much-needed experience against the Wallaby-stacked Rebels.
The pair have been battling hamstring injuries and still need to pass fitness tests to play while prop Angus Bell, who hurt his back in the warm-up is no certainty.
The Rebels have had a loss and draw from their two outings and will be desperate for a win to keep in touch with the leaders.
“They are going to be tough opposition,” Whitaker said.
“There’s quality in the forwards, some really strong ball carriers and half a dozen Wallabies thrown in so it’s going to be a good contest for the boys.”
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