Attack coach Chris Whitaker won’t discourage his battling NSW Waratahs from offloading, admitting they don’t have the size to play a power game.
In the two instances NSW held onto the ball for more than eight phases against the Blues, they scored tries.
“As coaches, the last thing we’re going to tell the boys is to stop the offloads,” Whitaker said.
“We’re not a team that can go out there and just play one pass, tuck it under their wing and carry into contact because we’re not big enough to do that.
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“It’s just that selection of when to throw that pass and when you hang on to it.”
He said rookie five-eighth Will Harrison was going really well, but thought moving veteran utility back Kurtley Beale to fly-half for the last 25 minutes of Saturday’s game also worked well.
Whitaker was non-committal about the backline configuration for Friday’s clash in Melbourne with the Rebels, who are also winless.
But he said former Melbourne utility back Jack Maddocks wasn’t far away from landing a starting gig after making some impact at fullback off the bench against the Blues.
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Alternative five-eighth Mack Mason has resumed kicking following a groin injury, forward Ned Hanigan is set to return from concussion either this week or next, and winger Mark Nawaqanitawase only suffered a fat lip from his awkward landing in Saturday’s loss.
The match in Melbourne is the Tahs’ first derby of the season, with Whitaker stressing the importance of winning Australian conference games.
“Neither of us have won a game; that’s irrelevant at this stage,” Whitaker said.
“I think both teams want to win it for the fact that it’s a derby.”
He noted the Rebels employed a similar defensive style to the two Kiwi teams that NSW played.
“The way they defend, they are quite tight. They are getting off the line really hard,” Whitaker said.
The Tahs’ own defence will come under scrutiny after leaking 11 tries across the first two rounds, with the players still adjusting to the demands of defence coach Phil Bailey, who was only appointed two weeks before their first game this season.
“We’re learning as we go, obviously having (previous defence coach) Steve (Tandy) here for so long, and now Phil coming in and changing bits and pieces. It’s definitely not an excuse,” Whitaker said.
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