The Waratahs need to ensure they are on the same page from 1-23 and beyond if they want to avoid another Super Rugby slip-up, lock Rob Simmons says.
An emphatic win against the Crusaders a fortnight ago was followed up an error-riddled loss to the Sunwolves just six days later, pushing them out of top spot in the Australian conference.
The Waratahs can ill-afford another slip up as they prepare to travel to Auckland to face the Blues.
When asked whether there was a psychological factor that caused their inconsistency, Simmons said rather that they needed to ensure they all stuck to team plans.
“I don’t think that is an issue, or I suppose maybe it is but not as a team,” he said.
“We need to know what we’re doing and we need to stick to that.
“You can’t really go off the page as an individual otherwise the rest of the team won’t be there with you.
“That’s a thing we looked at today is we went one out a little bit and the times we did, sometimes you can get away with that, but the times we did on the weekend it got turned over and we were down playing at the wrong end of the field.”
Though the Waratahs were disappointing in Newcastle, their lineout, led by Simmons, was again one of their strengths.
The Waratahs’ lineout success is up to 91.6 per cent so far this season, up from 87.6 per cent in 2018, and as the caller, Simmons is a big part of that.
“It’s an area that I enjoy but everyone’s looking to improve and when we do go out there to train we don’t just say we’ve got a good line out, we try and look at ways we can get better and then each day we add to that,” he said.
Simmons has been in vintage form for NSW this season and said his improvement went back to some brutally honest feedback last season.
“I think my mobility’s always been a strong part of my game but there was a meeting we had early in the season last year where it was pointed out as a group what we thought we were doing and what was really happening,” he said.
“It really struck home with me if I want to make that my strong point and try and lead the way in those sorts of areas and since then I enjoy that part and I try to lead the way in that.
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“You can have a good game one week, you enjoy that little moment, move on and then look to get better again the next week.
“You can’t guarantee that happens every week – something might happen and you’re only one dropped ball away from a bad performance.
“I’m just looking to improve really and I like that – I know the general Australian public think I’m getting old but I’m still looking to improve and that’s the focus I have this week is always looking to get better
As they look to the Blues, the Waratahs will need to instil the mentality Simmons speaks of across their whole squad with a World Cup rotation plan continuing through the season..
NSW opted to rest Jack Dempsey, Bernard Foley and Adam Ashley-Cooper against the Sunwolves and it is believed that captain Michael Hooper is being considered to sit out the trip to Auckland.
Flanker Will Miller ran freely and trained with the main group on Monday after three weeks out with an ankle injury, a progression that could open the door for Hooper’s first rest weekend.
Simmons, who is another on the Wallabies list, said it was up to the squad to make sure to “embrace the challenge” of trying to win without some of their Test players in the 23.
“I think they (the coaches) have their plan in place and they’ll stick to it and us as a squad need to embrace that, embrace that challenge and look at ways of winning without certain players,” he said.
The Blues will likely be missing superstar winger Rieko Ioane in the clash, with New Zealand’s own resting plan in place.
The Waratahs take on the Blues on Saturday night at Eden Park, kicking off at 5:35pm AEDT, 7:35pm local, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.