Winger Rob Horne has declared the NSW Waratahs must lift collectively rather than rely on one person to replace injured Kurtley Beale, when the team tries to end their drought against the Crusaders in New Zealand on Friday.
The Australian conference-leading Tahs have lost their last eight away matches to the Crusaders, with none of the current team having played in their last Super Rugby win there in 2004.
“It’s a big aim of ours to go and get away wins, so it will be a huge challenge,” Horne said.
The Waratahs will face the New Zealand heavyweights Crusaders and the Chiefs in successive weeks and will play the remainder of their campaign without influential playmaker Beale.
The Wallabies star suffered a knee injury in the first minute of the Tahs win over the Bulls last weekend and will be sidelined for four to six months.
“It’s brutal. It’s so hard to see such a loved person in our team and especially for NSW supporters and fans it’s so disappointing for him to go down,” Horne said.”
“It’s a huge loss. He’s such a big component of our on-field and off-field, his character around the club.”
“We’re all going to have to step up.”
“You don’t replace someone like that, he’s a major part of our side.”
NSW have won four in a row to revive their ailing season after an erratic start.
The Crusaders and Chiefs, who the Tahs will play in New Zealand, are currently first and second in a ultra-competitive New Zealand conference in which just one point separates the top four teams.
“We’re looking forward to this next block and really testing ourselves,” Horne said.
“We’ve got two tough games with the Crusaders and then the Chiefs at home.”
“It’s a big challenge for us but those types of teams bring the best out of us.”
Horne was understandably wary of a high-scoring Crusaders outfit who have been one of the form sides of the competition.
“They are a high off-loading team. They stretch the field. They are such an attacking outfit that you have to be on to give yourself a chance,” Horne said.
“If you are slightly off, it’s going to be a long day.”