Somewhere out there is the next Waratahs head coach and it would be fascinating to hear his views of a NSW performance that was not as bad as we had feared – but not nearly as good as some are trumpeting.
Yes, the Tahs did score seven tries against a formidable New Zealand opponent. Yet not only did they not score a bonus point – when was the last time that happened? – they actually conceded one to a Hurricanes team that strolled over for 10 tries.
Given their dreadful season in Super Rugby AU, most Tahs supporters would have grabbed a 64-48 defeat with both hands before the kick-off. Still, they must have come away from the match feeling as though they had gorged themselves on fairy floss. Sweet, but utterly unsatisfying.
Looking on, presumably, would have been the person who, in just over a month, will take charge of the NSW rugby program as Waratahs’ head coach. Indeed, it may be he was already in the coach’s box, in the form of Chris Whitaker or Jason Gilmore.
John Manenti, the Australian women’s sevens coach, is emerging a strong contender, although the NSW appointment will come a month too early for him to surf in on any golden wave from the Tokyo Olympics. Former Wallabies coach John Connolly, who these days is director of rugby at the powerhouse Brothers club in Brisbane, is another who brings a wealth of experience to the field.
London Irish head coach Les Kiss is also highly regarded and in the frame, and there have been suggestions that Rod Seib, the well-credentialled assistant coach at the Brumbies, might apply though he only signed a two-year deal with the ACT back in November. Hopes that Darren Coleman might be enticed back to Sydney from LA are now looking extremely remote.
While all this is happening, the Melbourne Rebels also will be pursuing what could well be an entirely new coaching staff, so who knows what complications will come of that. Kiss and Coleman are also in their sights.
From a national perspective, what happens in Melbourne is of extreme significance. NSW, as the biggest provider of rugby talent in the country, ultimately will sort itself out but Rugby Australia will be keenly aware Victoria doesn’t have the luxury of getting it wrong.