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‘Don’t regret it’: Penney defends Waratahs’ Wallabies exodus as leadership void laid bare

But those experienced heads have departed over the last few years. The decisions to let those players go can’t all be attributed to Penney, as he’s only been in charge for 15 months, but at a time when the Waratahs needed to keep their last remaining greybeards, the Kiwi and the organisation have not managed to stop the bleeding.

Penney said wouldn’t do anything differently, however. “Don’t regret it. Don’t regret the discussions we had and the decisions we made there,” Penney said. “We have people in the organisation that will do a job (as captain), yeah.”

Jake Gordon (middle) came away from Suncorp Stadium with an injured ankle.

Jake Gordon (middle) came away from Suncorp Stadium with an injured ankle. Credit:Getty

While Penney didn’t wish to discuss the list management decisions which led to the hole the Waratahs find themselves in, he didn’t shy away from his team’s “ugly” performance against the Reds.

“When you get a red card [to Izaia Perese] and you get a couple of significant injuries to players who have more or less established themselves – any team is going to struggle with that sort of carnage,” Penney said.

“There were some really good bits but there were some really ugly bits. The inconsistency was there for everyone to see. The Reds are a really good side and particularly on the day, the backline they had exposed us.”

The “inconsistency” in the Waratahs’ performance reminded Penney of the rugby his side produced at the start of last year.

“There were certainly some elements of that inconsistency that were evident early on last year,” he said.

“That rose its head. It’s a different group. This group is still feeling its way a little bit and there was only really a bad window of seven or eight minutes where the Reds scored some good seven pointers. They were ugly.”

Penney and the Waratahs did not disclose how long Gordon and Joey Walton, who also injured his ankle, will be sidelined.

They will be buoyed by the return of Lachlan Swinton, who hasn’t played since being shown a red card in his Wallabies debut late last year.


“Swinno back eligible for selection … is good timing.” said Penney. “You know what he’s going to bring.

“He’s a great team man, he loves the Waratahs, wants them to do well and he brings a competitive, combative element.”

Gordon will be replaced by Jack Grant, the son of former Wallaby James Grant.

“Jack is a success story of a young guy who has persevered and stayed in a really good club environment and has now reaped the rewards of that,” Penney said.

“He’s a really mature player. We have no issue with his decision making around the game. But he’s also quick, he has a lovely pass and he has a good kicking game. All the thing you need from your No. 9.

“And it’s a great credit to his perseverance that he will get a good opportunity to get amongst it.”

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