Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon says there is a sense among the playing group that they’ve let down Rob Penney after the coach was suddenly axed on Sunday night.
In an emotional meeting with the squad on Monday morning, Penney addressed the young team and players were given a chance to freely express their frustrations and ask questions about their now uncertain futures.
Gordon said he was shocked to learn the news on Sunday afternoon despite the building pressure at the club over a horror stretch of five-straight Super Rugby AU losses.
“We’re letting our state down, our fans down and our family down, so there’s definitely a sense across the park that we’ve let people down,” Gordon said.
“In a high-performance environment that we’re in, the players need to take ownership for that and it’s unlucky that Rob ended up copping the bullet.
“A lot of the guys are in their first or second year so it’s a bit of a shock.”
According to assistant coach Jason Gilmore, Penney is devastated.
“He’s obviously very disappointed, he’s put a lot of work into the club in the last two years and he can see a bright future here so he’s disappointed,” Gilmore said.
Although the pressure had been building over some time, Gilmore said they were unaware the axe would fall after Saturday’s dismal 46-14 loss to the Reds.
“You’re not naive, everyone has been in the business of coaching for a long time that if you get consecutive losses and they’re big ones, it’s just going to put pressure on,” he said.
Gilmore and fellow assistant Chris Whitaker have taken over as interim coaches tasked with sparking some form of improvement in the young side ahead of Friday’s clash with the Brumbies.
With three games to go in the Super Rugby AU season before the Trans-Tasman competition starts, Gilmore is confident they can win at least one game.
“Definitely. Obviously, it’s going to be a tough one against the Brumbies, that’s a real opportunity to see a bounce back,” he said.
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