But NSW hasn’t been very good at picking them. This year there will be two foreigners on the Waratahs squad, with Junior All Black and Hawks Bay second-rower Geoff Cridge recruited into the forwards. Our Kiwi snouts tell us that Cridge is a talented player, unlucky enough to miss out on a Super Rugby contract on the other side of the ditch, so hopefully he has a point to prove.
Over the years there have also been some silent workers who did the work they were hired to do. Kiwi prop Angus Ta’avao gave two solid seasons of service to the Sky Blue and earned a test debut at home. Springbok Tiaan Strauss played three seasons with NSW after a rugby league stint for Cronulla.
Yet it belongs the Herald to warn both Cridge and Roberts – and those within the Waratahs with short memories – of the line of dubious signings they will join, and set themselves from, when pulling the sky blue. This list is by no means exhaustive, but captures the spirit of some spectacularly bad recruiting conversations.
Le Roux Roets
The giant second rower – 138 kilograms of race weight – cut a lost figure in Daceyville. He had the physique to dominate, but not the maturity or willpower, as the bushveld-raised South African struggled to adapt to the pace – on and off the pitch – of life in the big smoke. Failing to make a single match roster in the 2019 season, his longest outing was during his backyard baptism at Israel Folau’s Church.
There was excitement for the feisty South African halfback when he arrived in Sydney in 2012. He started the first few games, but the hype dissipated when it turned out that his passing game was nonexistent. Local Brendan McKibbin took his spot on round four and never gave it back.
The Waratahs love a Kiwi two-rower for a reason. Whetton had an impeccable pedigree as the son of All Black Gary Whetton and nephew of Alan Whetton, but he didn’t make a huge impression in Sydney. He played a handful of games, but did not get his contract renewed. His most notable contribution was driving while drunk in the back of an undercover police officer’s ute.
Another talented second rower from across the ditch, he found a COVID hit season so unbearable that he asked for a release and is now playing with the Highlanders.
One-Test All Black recruited by Chris Hickey with much fanfare for the 2010 season. Anesi started out as a fullback until Kurtley Beale relegated him to club rugby.
Another Hickey recruit, Roodt’s massive body promised much and delivered little. He was released after one season.
Forced to watch from the sidelines for the duration of his NSW stint in 2015, the South African-born Japanese player went on to star for Japan at the 2019 World Cup, scoring a hat-trick against Russia and a try in the pool game against Scotland that gave the host country a historic quarter-final place.
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sports Newsletter.