Watarahs 'broken' after Brumbies 'shellacking'

SYDNEY (Reuters) – New South Wales Waratahs coach Rob Penney said he would walk away from the job “gracefully” if it was determined that he was not the man to lead the embattled team forward.

The Waratahs have conceded more than 100 points in two record losses to start the Super Rugby AU season after a 41-7 thrashing by the Queensland Reds last week and a 61-10 humbling at the ACT Brumbies on Saturday.

New Zealander Penney said his young side were “shattered” and “broken” after a masterclass in ruthless rugby from the nine-try Brumbies at Canberra Stadium.

“I love these boys and I’m doing my best,” Penney told reporters. “If other people think I’m not the right person, I’m not going to stand in the way.

“I just want what’s right for the group, if it’s determined that that’s not me, I’m more than happy to go gracefully.”

The Waratahs have suffered more than most from the financial crisis in the game caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and lost a squad’s worth of internationals in the last two years.

The starting XV for the first home match of the 2019 Super Rugby campaign – a 28-17 win over the Reds – included 12 Wallabies and Harry Johnson-Holmes, who would later go on to represent Australia.

That only number eight Jack Dempsey and one-cap prop Johnson-Holmes remained from that team on Saturday night was a stark illustration of the transition that Penney is trying to manage.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about the staff, it’s about the young men we’re trying to push through and we got a really good shellacking tonight for want of a better word,” the former Munster and New Zealand under-20s coach said.

“You could look from the outside in and say we need to be harder on them but the boys need a bit of love and we need to get back on the horse and prepare for next week.”

The Waratahs play Perth-based Western Force in their first home match of the season next week.

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