Waratahs leaving nothing to chance



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The Waratahs will be leaving nothing to chance in their quest to secure a Super 14 home semi-final and will be operating on South African time even before they set off on their make-or-break tour of the republic this week.

The Waratahs surged into second place on the table with an impressive 25-10 bonus-point win over the Sharks at the SFS on Saturday night, the Waratahs must now tour South Africa and face the Bulls in Pretoria, the Stormers in Cape Town and Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

With only five table points separating the five teams chasing runaway leaders the Crusaders, NSW coach Ewen McKenzie admitted the rugged three-game tour will define the Tahs season.

McKenzie had suspected that this might be the case some six months ago when he started planning for the treacherous end-of-season draw and decided to follow a tried-and-tested but nevertheless “radical” routine.

The plan is to begin acclimatising for South Africa before they even arrive for a daring hit-and-run attempt on the defending champion Bulls.

Unlike most teams who jet off for the demanding trip to Africa the day after a game to give themselves ample time to adjust to the local conditions, the Waratahs will not leave until two days before the match.

They will have a light Captain’s Run on Friday then play the match on Saturday at altitude.

McKenzie hopes the necessary preparation will be done well before all that.

When the Waratahs leave on Thursday morning, it will be 2am in South Africa, so McKenzie has requested airline staff delay meal times for his charges so they can sleep as soon as they board.

“Then they can have breakfast when they wake up,” he said in The West.

“The trick is to resist the temptation to watch the movie you’ve been wanting to see and go straight to sleep.

“We went late last year and we found it worked really well for us.

“Only two teams won their first game in South Africa last year. We were one of them and this year there’s been, I think, three teams that have won their first game. There’s a bunch of teams that haven’t.

“We’ve got our own thoughts about what the best preparation is and we believe that recovering from the game (before) adds to the importance.

“So not getting on the aeroplane today is a plus for us in terms of (recovering) and also getting through our routine preparation for the match.

“We’ll do all our preparation for the Bulls and then literally just fly over there and play the game. We’re comfortable with that.”

McKenzie adopted the idea from the Socceroos.

“It’s radical, I guess, in terms of rugby,” he admitted.

“But in soccer, for instance, when the Australian soccer team plays here, they fly in the guys from Europe the day before.

“The Kewells and these guys, they come here for literally two nights. They play and they fly them out again.”

It’s hard to argue with McKenzie’s strategies when the Tahs are on a roll having racked up a record-equalling five straight wins, with the four-try romp over the Sharks undoubtedly their most polished effort yet this season.



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