NSW Waratahs urged to seize the moment

·2-min read

Michael Hooper is urging the NSW Waratahs to seize the moment and not let an opportunity slip in Saturday's do-or-die Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final against the Chiefs.

The Waratahs venture to Hamilton as underdogs but full of belief after transforming themselves from winless wooden spooners in 2021 to shock title contenders this year.

Under first-year coach Darren Coleman, NSW have already conquered 12-times Super champions the Crusaders, the Highlanders in New Zealand and posted eight wins in total.

Defence coach Pauli Taumoepeau is convinced Coleman had a Midas touch after previously guiding Warringah to Shute Shield glory in his first season with the club in 2017, then Gordon to the premiership three years later.

Coleman also had Toyota Industries Shuttles promoted to Japan's Top League in 2013-14 and steered LA Giltinis to the Major League Rugby title in their inaugural season last year.

"I view DC (Darren Coleman) as the play-off king. Wherever he goes, they seem to make play-offs and win things," Taumoepeau said on Thursday.

Lock Jed Hollway said Wallabies captain Hooper, a survivor from NSW's triumphant 2014 campaign, reminded the Waratahs in their team meeting not to be content with making the finals after last year's depressing campaign.

"These opportunities don't come around often. We can't afford to be happy with our year and look ahead to building," Holloway said.

"You need to make the most of what we've got in front of us.

"The Chiefs have come third and they're a great side. We'll take the underdog status. I think that's fair to say.

"We're just excited to be in this position. I'm really proud of the team and how they bounce back after such a tough year last year.

"We need to take as much stress out of the young fellas as we can but also get them up for the moment."

NSW will again be without strike centre Izaia Perese, who failed to overcome a knee injury in time, but welcome back prop Harry Johnson-Holmes.

"I think (Perese) was always 50-50. That was more hopeful for us," Taumoepeau said.

"With Harry, we've scrummed pretty hard this week. Our scrum reps are up. We scrummed again today.

"We made him scrum against Belly (Angus Bell). We gave him three different looseheads to scrum against and he pulled up fine."

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