Waratahs stay grounded chasing redemption
In coach speak, the NSW Waratahs will carry "a humble confidence" into Saturday night's Super Rugby Pacific crunch match with the Hurricanes in Sydney.
In layman's terms, after years of regular trans-Tasman beatings, the Waratahs finally feel back on level terms against their more-fancied New Zealand opponents.
Or at least close to level pegging following a stirring victory over the benchmark Crusaders and six other wins so far in a resurgent 2022 that has Darren Coleman's side suddenly challenging for a top-four finish and home quarter-final.
"It's a confidence that if we turn up and do our job then we're in with a fight," said Waratahs assistant coach Pauli Taumoepeau.
"It's not like the rule of inertia where what's happening is always going to happen. We understand that we have to work hard for it, but there's evidence that if we play hard and play tough that we can swing a result."
Coleman's appointment, following last year's mid-season sacking of Rob Penney, is proving somewhat of a masterstroke by the NSW board.
Taumoepeau said there was no chance of Coleman allowing his team of surprise packets to get carried away by their unexpected success so far in his first season.
"A humble confidence is sewn in what DC's about," the forwards coach said.
"We've still got to work hard. We get nothing on Mondays. When we won against the Crusaders, we came in and told them every single fault from within that game.
"It wasn't like 'come on boys, come in a bit later' or 'let's go out on Saturday night'.
"There's no free rides. That's just how we operate."
Driven by the despair of last year's winless campaign, the Waratahs are chasing a fourth straight victory for the first time since 2018.
But they're also facing a possible fifth consecutive loss to the Hurricanes, who fired a timely warning of their attacking potency with a 67-5 slaying of Fijian Drua on Sunday.
The Tahs must beat the seventh-placed Hurricanes to at least hold down fifth spot and keep their 2022 ultimate redemption dream alive.
"Last year's not a distant memory," Taumoepeau said.
"As much as you try, we can't go past it. Even the headlines, we can't win a game without someone saying they lost 17 in a row last year.
"The boys still hurt from that. We're humans so you remember those things. No one's gloating."