The NSW Waratahs have always had talent, but have never been able to convert that into premierships or even truly consistent play.
With the additions of Kurtley Beale and Jacques Potgieter to the roster the Waratahs look like they have the talent to contend in 2014. Hereís a breakdown of what could make or break their season.
Explosiveness:† With Peter Betham, Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale in the backline, the Tahs have the ability to score from anywhere on the field. These players could play a huge role in securing valuable bonus points for the team.
Coaching:† The Waratahs should have never fired Ewen Mckenzie at the end of 2008, since then the front-office has struggled to fill his place. Michael Cheika looks like he might be the first real solution. His strong knowledge of the Shute Shield, a desire to play attractive rugby and a focus on fitness seems to be a strong combination for the club.
Balance:† There is a great balance of youth and experience within the team. Players such as Benn Robinson, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Jacques Potgieter and Dave Dennis provide a mass of super rugby and international experience. Whilst younger players such as Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Michael Hooper bring phenomenal raw talent to the line-up.
The Forward pack: Whilst there are some great players in the Waratahs forward pack, personally I feel like it doesnít have the same intimidating presence that can be so important in tight games. This has partially been addressed with the addition of Potgieter and the signing of Michael Hooper last year. But the tight five is the weakest part of the squad.
The Waratahs: †The Waratahs donít like to make anything easy for themselves. The team has an innate ability to lose to lower ranked teams or to lose all form when playing outside of Australia. Champion teams are able to adapt to challenging situations, and itís rare that you see that from the Tahs.
The Halves: The most influential part of a successful rugby team is the halves combination. Iím not sold at all on Nick Phipps and I have an impending sense of dread that Kurtley Beale wonít get to play at fly-half. If this combination isnít sorted early in the season, it will cost the team games. †