How Coleman helped NSW find its backbone

There was a moment in the Waratahs’ 27-20 loss to the Brumbies that told NSW fans everything they needed to know about this team.

Towering No.8 Will Harris came 60 yards out in the 75th minute to back up five-eighth Ben Donaldson, then took the ball and scored to put the visitors within range.

Harris jumped to his feet to take a hug from his teammates but quickly fell back, cramped. As he waited for the mid-term reboot, he threw up. And vomit, and vomit.

It wasn’t pretty. It was not a victory. The Waratahs are one in three with two loser bonus points. But it was proof that the Waratahs under Darren Coleman are ready to empty the tank, literally, for each other and their fans, every week, for 80 minutes.

“There was actually the winger and the full-back there too, they were in line with Will when Donno broke through. For a big guy, Will is a very graceful and natural mover, but he wasn’t like that. He was screwed. He was so tired. He just found a way to get in there, get in Donno’s line of sight and cross the line,” Coleman said.

“Will Harris is a perfect example of what we’re trying to do. He was always introduced as a rock star player in school, but everyone always wondered about his tenacity, competitiveness, and will to carry on. But he plays like this week after week. The other coaches talk to him about his game, but all I do is talk to him about being this tough No. 8 for us.

“I am a dog trainer. If the dog is fine, I give him a biscuit.

New South Wales coach Darren Coleman

The NSW dressing room in Canberra on Saturday was miserable. Some players were on the verge of tears. For them, after the promise of two trial wins and a first round win over Drua, the defeats to Queensland and ACT were crushing. Coleman’s job is to ward off the ghosts of last season, lest they come back to haunt his players, undoing the good work.

In the space of a pre-season, two Test matches and three rounds of Super Rugby, Coleman has reminded the Waratahs that they have a backbone. He helped them regain not only the respect of their fans, but also their self-esteem.

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