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Tahs face Super Rugby injury, form issues

NZN 20/03/2017 Adrian Warren

NSW Waratahs forwards' coach Cam Blades insists his struggling Super Rugby side still possess a lot of confidence and there's no panic about their poor start to the season.

The 1-3 Waratahs are fourth in the Australian conference after three straight losses and have injury issues to deal with in the lead-up to Friday night's match against the Rebels in Melbourne.

Flanker Jack Dempsey is expected to be sidelined for at least eight weeks despite not requiring surgery for a foot injury, while prop Sekope Kepu has less than a week to recover from a bout of concussion.

The Waratahs have shown only glimpses of form through their first four games, with their forwards struggling to impose themselves and the backs getting limited opportunities.

"It's worrying whenever it's not coming together, but there's a lot of confidence in the group and a lot of positive energy and belief in that group," Blades said.

"We've just got to keep down that path and make sure we keep beavering away and working towards finding that solution.

"It's certainly not panic stations or anything like that yet because we've got great confidence in the direction we're trying to head in.

"It's just getting that footing and then starting to build on something that just hasn't quite taken traction yet."

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson wasn't happy with their set-piece work in Saturday's loss to the Brumbies, but Blades suggested concentration rather than technique was the key.

"Some of the great set-pieces we had in the first half shows that it's just a consistency thing, rather than anything else," Blades said.

Blades was adamant attitude was not an issue for his forwards.

"I can't fault them there," Blades said.

"I think sometimes, there's probably an argument at times we're over-enthusiastic and don't always stick to principles."

Blades said the options for replacing Dempsey included Ned Hanigan, Michael Wells or switching lock Dean Mumm to blindside flanker.

He said Kepu was being monitored daily.

"It's obviously a six-day turnaround so we're right on the deadline around his situation," Blades said.

The Waratahs are also waiting for Wallabies five-eighth Bernard Foley to prove his fitness after missing the first four rounds with post-concussion symptoms.

Blades admitted the Tahs had been beaten at the breakdown in recent weeks and needed to improve against a winless Rebels side, for whom flankers Jordy Reid and Colby Fainga'a excelled last week.

"We know them attacking our breakdown will be a massive threat," he said.

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