Waratahs grazing again as return nears

Murray Wenzel
Waratahs captain Rob Simmons can't wait for Australia's Super Rugby competition to get underway

Rob Simmons compared his NSW Waratahs teammates to "cows waiting to get fed" as they queued to return to training after nearly two months in isolation on Tuesday.

The captain said their first session together, albeit modified in nine-man groups, had renewed their purpose as Rugby Australia eyes a July 4 restart.

The prospect of a five or six-team domestic league - which could include one or both of Japan's Sunwolves and the Western Force - also excited him.

"Waiting at the gate ... felt like a cow waiting to get fed," he said of the sight of players queuing to enter the facility on Tuesday.

"Everyone's very eager to get back and play and speaking to family members ... people are starting to realise how much sport is part of our community and can't wait for it to be back on TV.

"I was speaking to a friend the other day and he said 'I'd watch a game of badminton right now'.

"It sounds like we'll be playing each other twice ... we all like these derby games. It's going to be huge."

The Waratahs were a dismal 1-5 when the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now back from New Zealand, coach Rob Penney will rejoin the squad once his self-isolation period is lifted.

The truncated domestic competition will also serve as a farewell tour for veteran back Kurtley Beale, after the club's most-capped player confirmed a switch to French club Racing 92 next season.

"Kurtley has been synonymous with rugby in New South Wales for the best part of a decade, and he's been a valued part of our organisation - we're certainly sad to see him go," NSWRU rugby boss Tim Rapp said.

"But this is a great opportunity for him to enjoy time playing overseas and everyone at the Waratahs wishes him all the best with the next chapter in his career."

Simmons lauded Beale's experience and said the side needed to put aside any off-field concerns about the code's future as they prepared for a return.

"Globally, we're all doing it tough," he said.

"The main thing is we just have to get back to playing rugby.

"The sooner we can do that and get ourselves on TV, the better."