Former NRL star signs on as Tahs’ Minister of Defence

The Waratahs will unveil former Australian league star Phil Bailey as the club’s new defence coach on Wednesday, following the surprise loss of Steve Tandy to Scotland.

The December appointment of Matt Taylor as the new Wallabies defence coach created a headache for NSW, as the highly rated Tandy was then headhunted to replace Taylor for Scotland’s Test team.

And with the clock ticking fast ahead of their February 1 Super Rugby season opener against the champion Crusaders, Waratahs general manager of rugby Tim Rapp and new coach Rob Penney have settled on Bailey to fill the void.

Bailey, 39, had an illustrious league career, representing Australia and NSW and racking up more than a century of appearances for both Cronulla and Wigan.

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Blues players Phil Bailey and Andrew Johns celebrate a win over Queensland in 2003.

Blues players Phil Bailey and Andrew Johns celebrate a win over Queensland in 2003.Source: News Corp Australia

The tough as teak backrower/centre has been earning his rugby stripes in the USA and was the Eagles defence coach at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

He will complete a new look Waratahs coaching team alongside Penney, forwards coach Matt Cockbain, scrum coach Mark Bell and 2019 returnee backs coach Chris Whitaker.

Penney told reporters last week that the coaches were looking to make some massive fundamental changes on how their players viewed the game.

“We’re trying to get the boys to be a lot more instinctive and utilise their on field decision making and their talents as exciting and talented young rugby players to a higher level,” Penney said.

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“And what that does is it can cause a little bit of anxiety because all of a sudden there’s repercussions for poor decisions and that sort of thing.

“We’re just going to try and grow the belief and the confidence and our first hit out will obviously identify some key areas, but there’s not a lot of time between the Highlanders pre-season game (Friday) and then we’re into the Reds and then we’re into our first round.

“Everyone’s in the same boat though and I’m sure because of the change in personnel in most teams that there will be a degree of anxiety in every group worried that they’re a bit underdone coming into the first few rounds.”

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