NSW coach Daryl Gibson has spent the bye week flogging his ill-disciplined Waratahs and whipping them back into shape for a showdown with the reigning Super Rugby champions.
Gibson was furious after the Waratahs were penalised four times in the first four minutes and then having two players yellow-carded in last Friday night’s 32-15 derby loss to the Brumbies.
That took the team’s tally to three sin-binnings in the first two rounds, while hooker Tolu Latu has been suspended for one match for punching Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua.
Prop Paddy Ryan admits there’s been a sting in Gibson’s tail this week and is confident the Tahs will respond accordingly in front of Sydney home fans against the Highlanders next Friday night.
“Training has stepped up. I don’t know if it’s a response to what happened on Friday night or it’s just that it’s a bye week,” Ryan said.
“But we’ve definitely put in a few hard yards this week, which is good. We’re looking forward to three days putting our feet up and getting ready for the Highlanders next week.
“We’ve tried to take out as much as we can from the Brumbies game and the boys have put in the hard yards and it’s been quite a positive week despite the loss.
“We won’t know how we’re faring until we play the Highlanders next week, but you couldn’t really ask for a better opponent than the champions from last year.”
Gibson said it was important to put the Waratahs’ week off to good use.
“It was a good opportunity for us to get through a lot of the areas that we feel let ourselves down (against the Brumbies),” he said.
“Discipline being one, lineout and the scrum was reasonably poor and then also the breakdown.
“So plenty of things to work on.”
Gibson believes the Waratahs’ two byes this campaign – coming after derbies against the Reds and Brumbies and then after another tough three-week block – will work out well for his side.
“You can use those as a nice little building block and we’ve certainly used this week as a building block,” he said.
“We took the learnings out of the Brumbies, we saw the standard that we need to get to to compete with them and also the areas that we need to work on.”
Gibson rates goalkicking five-eighth Bernard Foley a 50-50 chance of returning from a shoulder injury to face the Highlanders.
“He has done a fair bit of stuff non-contact, which is a good sign,” Ryan said.
“We’ll just have to wait and see. It would be great to have him back sooner than later.”