The Waratahs are the last line of Australia's defence against New Zealand dominance in Super Rugby but Rob Simmons says the side isn't feeling any pressure ahead of their clash with the Blues this weekend.
The unbroken tally of defeats to Kiwi teams now sits at 36 matches spanning three seasons and despite early confidence that an Australian side would break the drought this season, neither the Rebels, Brumbies nor Reds have been able to do it.
Now it is the Waratahs' turn to have a crack, against the New Zealand conference cellar-dwellers at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night. NSW were the last team to record a win against New Zealand foe, beating the Chiefs two years ago this month.
Refreshed: Simmons at Waratahs training on Monday.
The home side are heavily favoured to get the job done against the Tana Umaga-coached Auckland side, who are on their own extended losing streak in derby matches and have won only two games this season.
But if the Waratahs were feeling any pressure they weren't showing it on Monday, with a lively first full training session together after the bye. Simmons said the team had enough motivation outside any trans-Tasman scorecards.
"We know that history and obviously we're going to go out there and try to change that this weekend because we don't want to go out there and lose," he said. "We want to get some momentum back in our season."
Plenty have tried and failed this season where the Waratahs hope to succeed. The Rebels were the canary down the mine shaft against the Hurricanes, the Brumbies lost to the Highlanders and the Crusaders and the Reds to the Chiefs.
A NSW win on Saturday would change the narrative for a game mired in bad news on and off the field at the moment, but Simmons said the best thing the Waratahs could do was to nail the training week and trust it would translate on the pitch.
"From my experience, I think the way they [the Blues] play is probably a little bit faster, so I don't think we change our style or anything. We just need to up the speed and ante of our decision making and the way we play," he said, adding that NSW should not get sucked into playing the Blues at their own game.
"I remember a few years ago, when we used to play the Hurricanes, they love to throw it around…they'd have a lot of turnovers and they would also have a lot of points leaked but they would create a lot of points,” he said.
“If you get into that, they're going to beat you every time. They train that week in, week out, all through their pre-season. If you start doing that they're going to beat you. You've got to stick to your game plan, stop their little offloads, stop them throwing the ball around and get them into a grind."
The Waratahs are sitting top of the Australian conference but have a bitter taste in their mouths after the Lions loss, which saw them record a scoreless performance for the first time in 23 seasons of Super Rugby.
Simmons said they would be looking to get on the scoreboard early to keep momentum behind them in the match.
"There was some good stuff there [against the Lions] that didn't turn into points for us. We've got to learn from that, get some points. You get that early in a game and it can change a whole game," he said.
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