Rugby-Waratahs launch player recruitment review after Penney axing

Nick Mulvenney
·2-min read

By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs have launched a review of player recruitment and retention after sacking coach Rob Penney in the wake of five successive defeats to start the Super Rugby AU season.

Penney was sacked on Sunday, a day after the Waratahs suffered a second record loss of the season to the Queensland Reds in front of a handful of fans at the 80,000-seater Olympic stadium.

Including Saturday's 46-14 drubbing, the Waratahs have conceded 201 points this season -- a performance that chief executive Paul Doorn said was not good enough even for a young team weakened by the departure of a host of internationals.

"Effectively, we've had five losses this year, three of them record losses," Doorn told reporters in Sydney.

"We knew that it was an inexperienced side to start with so, from our perspective, there was ample time to (deliver success) but unfortunately that wasn't to be.

"There are a range of other things around recruitment and retention that we are delving into to make sure they are a success going forward."

The Waratahs had won just five of 19 matches since Penney took over from fellow New Zealander Daryl Gibson in 2020, and captain Jake Gordon said there was some feeling in the squad that they had let their coach down.

"We haven't been performing," said the Wallabies scrumhalf, who hopes to return from injury against the ACT Brumbies on Friday.

"We've been letting our state down, our fans down, our family down. There's definitely a sense across the board of letting people down."

Jason Gilmore, who will take over as co-coach for the rest of the season along with former Wallaby Chris Whitaker, said he was confident there was enough quality in the Waratahs squad to avoid a winless season in the last three matches.

"We're feeling for Rob, but the reality of professional sport is you've got to get your wins on the board," the former Junior Wallabies coach said.

"The change is not going to be the magic wand, it's not going to drop in 300 test caps or 800 Super (rugby) caps, so the squad that we've got is the squad that we've got.

"We believe we can make some small shifts that can impact on the game. It's going to be a tough one against the Brumbies ... and then with the Force and the Rebels ... I definitely think they're winnable games."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)