Tahs seek better breakdown effort

Adrian Warren
The Waratahs believe their ruck work needs to improve if they're a chance of beating the Crusaders

NSW Waratahs hooker Damien Fitzpatrick says his team's breakdown play must improve if they are to upset defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Waratahs lead the Australian conference despite successive home losses.

Their defeat by the Blues last Saturday swelled to 38 the streak of successive losses suffered by Australian teams against New Zealand opposition.

NSW, the last Australian side to beat a Kiwi team, will start as big underdogs against a flying Crusaders unit.

They have accumulated more ladder points than any other side this season and have won their last six games.

The Tahs started a run of four straight matches against New Zealand sides with a loss to the Blues in Sydney last weekend.

"We understand that our breakdown probably wasn't good enough on the weekend and statistically that's probably where they (the Crusaders) are strongest across the competition," Fitzpatrick said.

"They are incredibly competitive at the breakdown and if were going to try and do a job in Christchurch this weekend, we need to improve our efficiency at the breakdown."

Waratahs attack coach Chris Malone said plenty of questions would be asked of his team's defence by a side averaging almost five tries a game.

"We've got to play smart rugby, I don't think you can expect to run and score from your own tryline," Malone said.

"They have been the benchmark of the competition and that's a really good opportunity for us to go and show people what we can do."

The Tahs will again look for attacking spark from superstar back Israel Folau, who made a strong return from injury last weekend.

"He'll only be better for that outing and we'll look for him to create more this week," Malone said.

Malone stressed there was no tension between the Wallaby star and the Tahs coaches over him being moved around the backline.

"Gibbo (Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson) and I have both had countless conversations with Izzy and he'll do anything for the team," Malone said.

He wasn't surprised by the quality of Folau's performance last week after his layoff and the firestorm of reaction to the player's views on homosexuality.

"'He's a professional, also he's a world-class footballer, so he does his best talking when he's between the white lines," Malone said.