Winning on and off the field on Sunday is a must for Waratahs

There is no discounting the pressure on Waratahs coach Michael Cheika and his players in their Super Rugby derby against the conference-leading Brumbies at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Nanjing Night Net

But no less will the pressure also be on their new chief executive Greg Harris, for whom last year’s Super Rugby semi-final replay will also be his first major public day on show in the job at the Waratahs’ home ground.

As Harris conceded late this week while Cheika was preparing his Super Rugby champions team to try and improve their 2-2 record: “The big thing for us is that not only do we win the football game, but actually [attract] the right number of people to the game to make it financially viable for the club.”

Harris knows the value of a strong crowd at Allianz Stadium to the coffers – last year’s 26-8 semi-final win by the Waratahs over the Brumbies before almost 40,000 was worth about $450,000.

With the home final victory against the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium in Homebush before a 61,823 crowd, the two home finals reaped $1 million-plus for the Waratahs.

“From a business perspective it is important,” said Harris, who joined the Waratahs on March 2 from the Rugby Union Players’ Association, where he was chief executive.

“If we hadn’t managed [to get] two finals last year then we would have been in a very difficult financial position. I will be buying Cheik a beer for a long while.”

To draw even the 30,000 crowd Harris hopes for on Sunday – which was tracking at about 25,000 mid-week – the game needs the lure of a potentially terrific contest.

And he has that, with a Brumbies side that leads the Australian conference, and a Waratahs outfit that has spluttered as defending champions but realises the potential price if they fall short on performance and result.

Not only could they see the growing crowd numbers they attracted last year drop for future home games, but a loss could also see this year’s tournament start to race away from them.

“Could you ask for a better clash?” Harris said. “Head to head, the different positions … it’s like a world title fight at Madison Square Garden, when you think about it.

“Like the breakaways against each other, the halves against each other, the 10s against each other … the front rows. It’s a championship event … man on man.”

NSW great Simon Poidevin echoed Harris’ billing, emphasising its position as a World Cup selection trial – especially with Cheika and Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham being the respective Wallabies head and backs coaches.

“Games like this are made for World Cup selection because they are high pressure games [between] two leading teams who will play a high-velocity game that we want to play,” Poidevin said.

“So if you want a World Cup trial five months out, this is it.”

Poidevin believes that for the Waratahs, the Brumbies rivalry has superseded that of the Reds.

“Going back a couple of years it would have been Queensland-NSW,” Poidevin said. “But the Australian side who want to put these guys away are the Brumbies.”

Poidevin still has plenty of belief in the Tahs, but their failings in key moments have frustrated.

“They are not too far off the pace,” Poidevin said.

“If they had made various passes stick in the past couple of weeks they wouldn’t have been down two games they should have won.

“It is not as though they are not trying to execute the style of game [of] last year [that] Michael wants. It’s just actually making those last bloody crucial moments stick.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are currently closed.