The frustration was still raw in the Waratahs camp on Saturday night, but there was a glimpse of brewing defiance in coach Daryl Gibson and captain Michael Hooper after their 40-11 loss to the Force.
Hooper had a glint of fire in him when talking about next season, after fronting up each week in his first season as sole skipper, only to find his team wanting more often than not.
“It’s unfortunate that you have to have a season like this but within this season I can say that young players, 22-24 range will learn a hell of a lot,” he said.
“I know I’ve learned a hell of a lot and we won’t be back here again.”
The flanker said the dismal return will have lit a fire in his side, with the 25-year-old clearly desperate to try and resurrect the Waratahs’ reputation.
“We’ve got the playing group to do it, we’ve got the coaches to do it, I think the desire after a season like this couldn’t be stronger,” he said.
“I wish I was going straight into another season and can look at how we can get better straight away.
“I wish we were playing next week to make amends.”
2012 was the last year in which a Waratahs side finished with just four Super Rugby wins but Gibson was frank about the stakes in 2018.
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“It has been a tough year, only winning four games. but what I can say is the Waratahs have been here before, we’ve had seasons where we’ve hit a low and the following year we’ve transformed our season,” he said.
“Certainly, we can’t have another season like this, that’s clear.”
It was deja vu for Hooper, whose post-match dissections have become somewhat Groundhog Day-esque, by circumstance rather than intent.
“It was a bit of a case of ‘I can’t believe we’re here again 20 minutes in’.” he said.
“You speak about it, you speak about it but we just couldn’t turn it around for a lot of the game this year.
“When we did find ourselves there, that spiral’s a hard one to break, particularly in wet weather rugby.
Hooper’s Waratahs opted for the posts a lot more than usual in Perth, a product of the Force’s strangling defence and the wet weather that bore down on them.
“I thought we weren’t attacking that well, I thought we weren’t working the ball around the field efficiently.
“I thought (against) the Force, who are obviously a big threat on the breakdown, we should take points and I think if they were worried about that facet of the game and we were able to start running points later on (it would work well).
“Unfortunately that never happened.”
That’s a caveat that could encapsulate the Waratahs season, and they’ll have to wait seven months to try and erase that qualification from their vocabularies.