NSW coach Michael Foley has challenged his top-line players to make significant sacrifices to ensure the Waratahs’ woes end in 2013.
Foley talked tough after his under-performing team ended its forgettable Super Rugby season with a record eighth straight loss, falling 32-16 to Queensland on Saturday night.
The Templeton Cup defeat meant NSW finished 11th on the ladder with a 4-12 record, six wins and 24 points out of the top six.
While they were their own worst enemy at Suncorp Stadium by gifting the Reds three tries, most of their 2012 losses were by less than seven points as they struggled to close out results.
Foley admitted the margins were small but stressed much bigger efforts were required – particularly on the pre-season training track.
He dismissed reports that some Wallabies, who finished their 2011 international commitments in December, dictated a softer pre-season program but left no doubt training would be harder and earlier this off-season.
“We know there are things we can control but there are things we have to embrace that we haven’t this year,” he said.
“No one should think that because the margins have been fine that a little bit more will be enough.
“I’ve made as many mistakes as any of the players on the field and they shouldn’t doubt themselves as people, but we also shouldn’t doubt that the distance to where we are and where we need to go will require significant sacrifice and we all need to embrace that.
“If somebody is not prepared to make that sacrifice the team won’t get there.”
Captain Benn Robinson, one of 10 Waratahs who could be expect to be on the Wallabies spring tour, said it was a tough ask to back up immediately after 11 months of rugby.
But Foley, well aware of a balancing act with burn-out issues and injuries, said the onus was on players to remain fit on their break.
“We know from this year’s experience that somebody starting after five weeks of doing nothing in mid-January and then expecting to play well in four weeks time won’t work,” he said.
Foley was endorsed by the Waratahs board to continue next year before their last two losses to the Brumbies and Reds.
But there’s speculation he may again be in the sights of the Western Force as Michael Cheika, a Randwick product, has reportedly told the Force he won’t join them.