NSW hooker Adam Freier fires out a pass in Lismore yesterday.
NSW hooker Adam Freier fires out a pass in Lismore yesterday.

This time: NSW

By STEVE SPINKS

THIS is the year!

That's the belief of the brains trust of the NSW Waratahs rugby union team, captain Chris Whittaker and coach Ewen McKenzie, who were at Crozier Field, Lismore yesterday for a promotional training session.

It's the belief, but is that belief on the mark?

"We hear the same thing every year," Whittaker said.

"We've made a few changes and hopefully that will make the difference."

McKenzie agreed with his captain.

"We've copped a fair bit of punishment for some time," he said.

"That's built a fair bit of resolve.

"We've worked hard on some key areas."

These key areas, according to McKenzie, include tougher team selection, analysing skill deficiencies in certain positions and working on the psychology of the players.

The duo certainly seem to believe the Waratahs can win the Super 12.

They use jargon such as 'culture, planning and management' ? more at home in the boardroom than the football field.

They want you to believe that they are a different team from 2004, 2003 or 2002.

They believe.

They really believe.

But can the NSW Waratahs supporters believe?

Only the individual can tell you that, but the Waratahs are certainly trying to be persuasive.

The Waratahs' stay in Lismore was their third stop in as many days to regional centres as they head north to take on the Queensland Reds in a trial tomorrow.

But one question had to be asked before the Waratahs left town.

Why do they always start the season so well and then fall in a heap towards the end of the competition?

"Mate, if I could answer that we wouldn't be having any problems," Whittaker chuckled.



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