Queensland coach Richard Graham insists time will help fix his team’s woes after an opening-round Super Rugby loss in which the circus surrounding Japanese player Ayumu Goromaru went into overdrive.
The Reds were outscored 30-10 and four tries to one by the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday night, but the unflattering scoreline doesn’t tell the complete story.
While a more clinical NSW deserved their win, it might have been a different story had Queensland converted early try-scoring opportunities and had the poise and class to capitalise on plenty of second-half possession.
Queensland had the edge in the scrum, winning a first-half tight-head despite having skipper and lock Rob Simmons in the sin-bin at the time.
Graham accepted a lack of discipline was a major issue for the Reds, who also had prop Sam Talakai binned.
Goromaru, who starred for Japan in last year’s World Cup, made an earlier-than-expected introduction to Super Rugby, as he came off the bench in the 27th minute to replace injured debutant and centre Henry Taefu.
He had three shots at goal landing two of them, but had few opportunities to showcase other aspects of his game as the Reds struggled to shift the ball out wide.
Graham felt the injury to Taefu and the consequent backline reshuffle affected the Reds’ cohesion.
“You can see there just the lack of combination,” Graham said.
“The new shape that we’re attempting to play, I felt we caused them a lot of problems, we made a lot of clean line breaks.
“But clearly having to mix guys around early in the game wasn’t ideal.
“It will come in time there’s no doubt.
“We’d gone in with a fairly settled group from the first two trials particularly the 9-13 combination.
“But then we lost him (Taefu) early.”
Goromaru didn’t have much impact on the game, but his mere presence at Allianz Stadium was enough to spark mass interest amongst the Japanese media, who probably outnumbered the local scribes in the press box.
“He’s a good footballer isn’t he?” Graham said.
“I thought he along with the other 22 blokes dug in and had a real crack.”
Asked what Goromaru needed to do to earn a starting spot Graham said “he’s just got to keep training hard.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson and his captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper both said Goromaru didn’t get enough ball to show what he could do.