NSW Waratahs bulk up before new season

The motivation to get bigger and stronger, according to Taumoepeau, came in the second half of the Super Rugby season when the impressive fitness of a relatively small forward pack came up against the power and strength of Kiwi rivals.

“I felt we were competitive against the Australian sides and we played them first and then … in that first New Zealand team was the Chiefs down in Melbourne for Super round. We were zero missed tackles but we leaked 30 points or so, and that was pure brute force,” Taumoepeau said.

“They just kept making ad line and it happened almost every week, bar the Crusaders. And then the Blues in the last round, exact same thing. Big [Luke] Romano gets a three-metre run up and just brute strength.

Ned Hanigan carries the ball against the Chiefs in the 2022 finals.Credit:Getty

“That was a good indicator for us that we needed to bulk up a bit. It has changed a bit of our focus for pre-season, and we are definitely seeing dividends from it around our scrum and our maul. But, yeah, it’d be nice to see that transfer to games now.”

The Waratahs’ strength and conditioning staff, led by former Scotland and Edinburgh head of performance Nick Lumley, oversaw a training and nutrition program designed to add power and size to players without sacrificing mobility and fitness.

It is a gamble because gains in one area can come at the cost of the other, although added size is a safer bet in the modern game because of the amount of stoppage time.

“You can’t go too much one way or the other,” Taumoepeau said. “I think we were too much fitness-focussed (in 2022) because we are a high-passing team, not naturally big, so we had to move teams around but we probably went too far that way.

“We have just tried to bring back the balance so we can be competitive around the field, and through the field.

Charlie Gamble and Lachie Swinton in action against the Brumbies.

Charlie Gamble and Lachie Swinton in action against the Brumbies.

“I think we have done a good job of it. Optically, the boys look different. And I am seeing some differences around the collision. It is just now can we do that in consecutive carries and can we do it when it matters most.”

After a breakout season in 2022, Holloway said he was looking forward to returning to action after returning back to training for the first time ever in January.


Beating Queensland in Narrabri is a priority for the Waratahs, who are keen to finish their trials with victory over the arch-rivals in a game that Holloway said usually feels “like a round one game”.

“DC ran it by me (to play against Queensland) and I thought it was a great idea. I probably wouldn’t feel super comfortable with no minutes under the belt. I am keen to come back in and earn my position in the team,” Holloway said.

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