NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says his surging Super Rugby side must avoid complacency after propelling themselves back into the battle for Australian conference leadership with successive away wins.
Gibson revealed up to a third of the squad had been affected by a virus heading into the 32-30 victory over the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday morning (AEST).
Following on from a 49-13 win over the Force in Perth, NSW have posted back-to-back victories wins for the first time this season.
Although still third in the Australian conference, the 2014 champions are level on points with the Brumbies and two behind leaders Melbourne with the bonus of having a game in hand on both their rivals.
“We’ve come through a bit of a tough patch with some losses and now to have two wins on the road gives us a lot of confidence and belief that we can compete against the best teams in the competition,” Gibson said on Sunday.
“It keeps us very competitive.
“We’ve really got our preparation and our training right. We’re doing things better off the field and those results are starting to show on the field.”
Gibson revealed the Tahs had been practising how to close out games after suffering narrow losses earlier in the season, but wanted to improve on their lineout form in Cape Town.
NSW now play consecutive home games against the Cheetahs and Bulls, with Gibson determined to improve on a poor 1-2 record in Sydney as opposed to a healthy 3-1 log on the road.
“For us, it’s very much a mental challenge around making sure that we don’t slip up mentally and go soft on ourselves,” Gibson said.
“It’s something we’ll be talking to the team about.
“The biggest thing that I want to overcome is the mental complacency that we might have.”
Lock Will Skelton recalled complacency was an issue for the Tahs when they returned from a win over the Stormers in 2014.
“The week after we played the Force and I feel we were a little complacent there, didn’t give respect to the opposition team and we got done there,” Skelton said.
The blossoming new centre combination of Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale contributed a try apiece against the Stormers.
“They are really starting to read off each other and combine well in the middle,” Gibson said.
Skipper and flanker Michael Hooper scored the crucial late try as part of a strong individual performance, with Gibson not buying into recent criticism of his leader.
“Michael has been leading and playing very well for us,” Gibson said.
“He’s been one of our most consistent players and again he showed that on Saturday night.”