Ned Hanigan is beefing up and working harder to make his mark on the field and it’s a move that’s paying off for the Waratahs flanker.
Hanigan has been in impressive form for the Waratahs so far in Super Rugby and had his best game of the year against the Reds, with a pivotal try and finished with 15 tackles and a turnover for the night.
Undersized in his first two seasons of Super Rugby, Hanigan has filled out in 2019 and said ensuring he made an impact physically was a priority for him.
“I think in my position you need that physical dominance on the field and I've definitely lacked that in the past,” he said.
“So, I think coming into this year just getting around the field and dominating in contact areas particularly around the ruck is something that I've worked on.”
Hanigan said there was no mysterious secret to his development this year, just a mix of hard work and experience.
“I had a really good off-season, like I got away from it, still kept it ticking over and then when the time came, just knuckling down,” he said.
“I feel playing the game a little bit now, I feel like I'm becoming a little bit more experienced in what works for me Gym-wise and that sort of thing and then again, gamesmanship.
“You pick your opportunities of when those things come. It's all, there's a fair bit there but it just comes with it I suppose.”
Physical dominance is something that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has asked of Hanigan in a World Cup year and the utility is working hard to deliver.
“I think my set piece is not too bad so it's definitely the defensive side of things and the ruck side of things (that I’ve been working on),” he said.
“Cheik and I have pretty open conversations about that and he says if you're dominant in that area I'll pick you so it's definitely something I'm working on.”
Hanigan and the Waratahs will have a big assignment in Canberra on Friday when they take on the Brumbies - namely stopping David Pocock.
Pocock is under an injury cloud after reinjuring his calf in the Brumbies’ loss to the Rebels on Friday night but should he play, the no. 7 will be target number one.
The Waratahs flanker said there was a simple, albeit far from guaranteed, solution when it came to halting his Wallabies teammate.
“Get there before him,” he said.
“If you give someone like David Pocock a chance to get on the ball, he licks his lips, gets on it and he's extremely hard to move.
“Get there before he gets there and you take that away from him and even then it's pretty hard.”
Hanigan and the rest of the Wallabies contingent will be in camp in Sydney until Tuesday ahead of Friday’s Waratahs-Brumbies clash.
The Waratahs take on the Brumbies on Friday night in Canberra, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO
by Beth Newman https://www.rugby.com.au/news/2019/03/10/super-rugby-waratahs-reds-hanigan