Tahs coach faces old mate in Super debut

Adrian Warren
New Waratahs coach Rob Penney faces a Super Rugby opener against old club Canterbury

NSW Waratahs coach Rob Penney concedes his side will need things to go their way and play "bloody well," if he's to enjoy a first-up Super Rugby win against a side coached by his former assistant.

A quirk of the draw means kiwi Penney returns to the South Island of New Zealand, where his coaching career really took off.

He won four successive national provincial titles with Canterbury, where one of his assistant coaches was Scott Robertson, who has coached the Crusaders to three straight Super titles.

"He's been a great contributor to the teams he's been involved with," new boss Penney said.

"He's a great coach. He's a really good thinker, a really good people person."

Penney has selected a youthful NSW side in which Junior Wallabies backs Mark Nawaqanitawase and Will Harrison will each make their debuts against a team that has won 31 consecutive home games.

"We need a few things to go our way and obviously we need to play bloody well," Penney said.

"We probably need to play one of the best games that we've played in a while.

"They've got a hungry group, a group that has lost a wee bit of experience out of the core group, but they've still got the guts of a really strong unit.

"There's a number of reasons why they'll want to go well.

"Being at home, that record of 31(straight home wins) they won't be looking at that as a burden.

"They will be looking at that like it is the wind at their back to drive them on to greater things, so we'll need things to go our way."

Penney isn't expecting any special reception for his return.

"I don't think there will be one really," he said.

"There will be a few family and friends dressed in blue which will be lovely, but I think I'm irrelevant, really it's about the game and the boys."