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Waratahs' frustrations at not starting season 'three from three'

By AAP
Will Harrison. (Photo by Clay Cross/Photosport)

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Stinging from two narrow defeats, the NSW Waratahs are targeting the next fortnight as critical to their Super Rugby Pacific finals chances.

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The Waratahs host the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels in successive games in Sydney and acknowledge the importance of winning both to revive their fortunes.

After opening the season with a drought-breaking 30-point rout of Fijian Drua, the Tahs blew it big time against the Queensland Reds before leaving their run too late against the Brumbies last Saturday night.

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The Aotearoa Rugby Pod review the third round of Super Rugby Pacific.
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The Aotearoa Rugby Pod review the third round of Super Rugby Pacific.

Playmaker Will Harrison believes the Waratahs should have beaten both of last year’s Super Rugby AU grand finalists and been sitting pretty unbeaten and atop the competition.

Instead, Darren Coleman’s men are precariously placed mid-table and needing to string together some wins to remain in the finals hunt.

“If you look at the Reds game, we probably should have beaten them for sure and then last week [we had] a slow start and we finished well and we definitely could be three from three,” Harrison said on Wednesday.

“We just see these next two weeks, two home games against the Force and the Rebels, that we’ve targeted and try to go two from two.

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“It’s a massive opportunity to set up our season and it all starts on Sunday arvo at Leichhardt.”

The Waratahs’ frustrating start to 2022 has somewhat mirrored Harrison’s.

Spoken about last year as a potential Wallabies No 10, Harrison isn’t even starting at five-eighth for the Waratahs following a luckless run with injury.

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The 22-year-old tore a quad muscle five weeks before the start of pre-season, the aggravated the injury a month later.

In his first game back, Harrison hurt his shoulder in NSW’s first trial game against the Brumbies.

With his long-time junior teammate Donaldson establishing himself at flyhalf, Harrison is making his way back via fullback, where he’ll start against the Force.

“Obviously it’s been a tough couple of months having back to back to back injuries,” Harrison said.

“So to get out on the field [off the bench against the Brumbies], it was a massive high. I love playing footy and just to come back from a few letdowns is awesome.

“I’m just happy to be back on the field.”

And happy to help Donaldson out wherever he can.

“It’s different being that second ball player almost. You’ve got more vision,” he said.

“I’ve played a lot growing up with ‘Donno ‘at 15 so we have a really good combination there but it’s probably just about being a good communicator, a good organiser and a link player with Donno and the forwards.

“So my goal is to make Donno’s life easier, sort of take as much pressure off him as I can.”

– Darren Walton

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