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HomeNewsSuper Rugby; Waratahs players camped out on Allianz Stadium turf

Super Rugby; Waratahs players camped out on Allianz Stadium turf

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When the rain started to fall in Sydney on Tuesday night Waratahs coach Darren Coleman had some concerned players wondering if his latest idea was a good one.

But in a bid to give his squad the ultimate connection to their home ground at the new Allianz Stadium, Coleman and the players did their best to stick it out and spend the night on the field, in a mix of tents and swags, to bond with the venue.

Ultimately most ended up inside when the rain got too heavy, but Coleman said it was still a worthwhile exercise for a group of players who hardly had a connection to the old stadium before it was torn down, let alone the new one where they will play in 2023.

In fact winger Mark Nawaqanitwase, who made his Wallabies debut during the tour of Europe last year, had never been to the new stadium until Tuesday’s exercise.

“It was good to get to connect with our home ground and sleep out,” Coleman said at the Super Rugby season launch on Wednesday.

“I had a few senior players whisper in my ear that maybe it wasn’t the way to go once it started raining. But we stuck it out and it was a good bonding experience. And as I said, we got to know our home ground a bit better. “

The Waratahs, who concluded their pre-season with a one-point trial win over the Reds last weekend, open their 2023 season against the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium next Friday, and spent all of Tuesday getting used to the venue.

After four seasons spent playing in a variety of venues as the new stadium was built, Coleman said it now provided a huge opportunity for the Waratahs to return Sydney rugby to its halcyon days, and for the players to make it their fortress.

“I was walking in to the season launch with Markie (Nawaqanitwase) and he’d never even been to the joint,” Coleman said.

“I think we calculated there were five or six of Jake’s (captain Jake Gordon) vintage who played at the old footy stadium before it got taken down so there’s not a whole lot of assimilation with it.

“Through the late 90s and early 2000s when rugby was really strong, I remember there was nothing better than getting to the pubs around Paddington, fans in their blue jerseys and then going to the game. There was a great vibe and we definitely want to get that back.

“I know I can’t spent too much time on that aspect … but we want people to come and support a team that may not win every week but will give it a good crack. “

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