The NSW Waratahs will happily win ugly as they look to take early command of the Australian conference in Friday night’s blockbuster Super rugby derby with the Brumbies.
While committed to their stylish ball-in-hand rugby, the Waratahs are preparing for another torrid encounter after edging the Brumbies 13-10 in last year’s battle in the national capital.
The hard-earned victory ultimately proved decisive as the Waratahs claimed conference honours by five competition points over their arch-rivals from Canberra.
Club captain Dave Dennis says the Waratahs are well aware of the significance of getting another result, regardless how early in the season the two Australian powerhouses are clashing.
“A win in the second round is just as important as a win in the 18th round,” Dennis said on Tuesday.
The Waratahs are fresh off a 30-10 drubbing of the Queensland Reds and are relishing the challenge of back-to-back derbies to open their 2016 campaign.
“The last couple of years but even more so this year these local derbies are becoming more and more important to get momentum in your conference with the way the competition is set up,” Dennis said.
“We have the bye after this weekend so obviously we can target these first two games and it’s a great opportunity to start the season and get ahead in our conference.
“It’s a positive challenge to test yourself early against, for me, probably the most consistent Australian team over the last couple of years.”
Proud of their exciting attacking style, Dennis says the Waratahs are ready to get down and dirty in a bid to retain interstate bragging rights and establish the early ascendancy in the Australian conference.
“The priority is to win. I think it was 12-8 there last year, so it wasn’t pretty,” he said.
“There wasn’t a lot of points scored but we came away with the win, which was very satisfying and Friday will be no different. It’s always a tough place to play.
“We want to play our style of rugby; obviously try and win our way but you’ve got to adapt at what they throw at you.
“They’re a very good team in terms of at disrupting what you want to do. We’re going to try our best to play our game, as they will, and we’ll see who comes out on top.”
Veteran NSW prop Benn Robinson has failed a concussion test and been ruled out, with Australian under-20s star Matt Sandell to come onto the bench or possibly even secure his Super Rugby starting debut.
Scrum coach Andrew Blades admits the Waratahs will lose a wealth of experience.
“He’s our most-capped Waratah. He’s our most-capped Waratah prop,” said Blades.
“(But) we wouldn’t take any type of risks that with type of injury.”