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Thread: Waugh uses the hurt

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    Waugh uses the hurt

    Waugh uses the hurt

    Rupert Guinness | December 24, 2007

    DESPITE the mire that the Waratahs and Wallabies fell into this year with their worst ever Super 14 and World Cup campaigns, Phil Waugh is more excited than ever about next season.

    What grips him is the realisation that at both levels he and his teammates have no option but to turn things around.

    This was reinforced on Saturday night over a beer with Australian one-day cricketer Brad Haddin at the bucks' night of Waratahs teammate Tom Carter.

    "We are all under pressure after the 2007 results," Waugh said. "We are under no false illusion everything is sailing smoothly. But that is one of the good things about high-end sport. You must perform under pressure."

    Waugh, despite the experience of his 66 Test caps and role as the Waratahs captain, said his chat with Haddin, who is two years his senior, was just the sort of tonic he needed as a nightmare year, rugby wise, draws to an end.

    "He was talking exactly about that, the difference between going from a good first-grade cricketer in club to being able to perform well in Pura Cup - at state level - and then obviously to international level," said Waugh.

    "The guys who perform under pressure at critical moments in sport, they are the guys you want to be playing with. I love my cricket, so I was chewing his ear off a bit. But if you watch cricket, it is not always the most talented guy who gets to the top. It is generally guys who are the most mentally tough. He pretty much reiterated that."

    Anyone who has seen Waugh play would hardly question his mental toughness. But even for the 28-year-old specialist open-side breakaway, the past year has thrown up more than his share of adversity.

    The wheels started to fall off his season as early as round three in Super 14 when he injured his left ankle, was operated on and missed the rest of the competition.

    He was to return to earn 11 more Test caps from 14 Wallabies matches (only three in the starting side). Then, after returning from the World Cup, there came a shoulder and another ankle operation.

    "It was very disappointing," Waugh said of 2007. "At the start of the year I felt I was in the best physical condition I had ever been in ... no niggling injuries. The injury in the Super 14 made things quite difficult."

    It still hurts Waugh to think about the 13th place of his Waratahs in the Super 14 and that quarter-final loss against England at Marseilles, which he rates as worse than the loss to them in the 2003 World Cup final. "We had a really good feel among the squad," said Waugh of the Wallabies.

    "But the quarter-final changed everything. To bow out of a World Cup like that in such an important year of your career was very disappointing.

    "It was a really empty feeling. Going into the game, the guys felt very confident about where we were at. It was a very empty feeling to know [by losing] you go back to your room, pack up your bags and you are out of there.

    "At least in 2003 we gave ourselves every chance of winning."

    Now the real hard part ...

    "You just have to accept it, but it is really hard accepting it, as we found losing the 2003 World Cup final. You have to move on, but unfortunately it probably sticks with you for a long time."

    Waugh showed he could move on after the Super 14 when, one week before the Wallabies left for the World Cup, he led a troupe of senior Waratahs into the office of NSW Rugby chief executive Jim L'Estrange to pledge a turnaround next year.

    Even during the World Cup, in which he played four of five games, he continued to liaise with L'Estrange and Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie about the year ahead.

    "There will be guys potentially moving on after 2008 and 2009," Waugh said. "It is important we fulfil what we want to fulfil, and that is to win a Super 14. We owe it to each other and ourselves. We won't have any excuses."

    Waugh is as excited about what lies ahead for the Wallabies, especially with Kiwi Robbie Deans as head coach.

    "For someone outside Australia to come into Australian rugby with the experience of having played against us will be really positive," Waugh said. "I think all the players are really excited about it.

    "Maybe that is the change and spark the guys are looking for. The wealth of experience he brings, having coached some of the best players in the world for the last six or seven years, will be critical for the Wallabies."

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    Last edited by Burgs; 24-12-07 at 08:39.
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    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    i have a lot of respect for Waugh, heart as big as Phar Lap, and a good leader as well...Hopefully the Tahs will be a stronger outfit next year, they are still my second team...

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    Legend Contributor Flamethrower's Avatar
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    Go the Cro. Lets hope he has a good year in 08 and the Tahs finish behind the Force again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamethrower View Post
    Go the Cro...




    Captain Waugh attempts to decipher Coach MacKenzie's match plan...


    .

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    The Tahs will walk into the Semis

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