The last time the Waratahs made the Super Rugby finals, they finished the regular season with five losses.
Eight rounds into 2017, they’re already at that mark with a crucial game against a Southern Kings outfit with everything to prove on Friday night.
The Australian conference is still wide open, with the Brumbies less than two wins ahead of the Reds and nine points adrift of the Waratahs, with nine rounds, eight games, to go.
A win against the Kings, who the Waratahs beat 72-10 in their only meeting in 2013, would give NSW their first win over overseas opponents this year.
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said they knew going into Friday night’s clash that they simply needed to win and keep winning.
“We’ve got to make a run for it to be a real threat in this competition,” he said.
“We finished the year second in 2015 with five losses and we’re on that mark now so it’s really time to start clicking into gear.”
After watching the Reds let a bonus point slip against the Kings last week, Hooper said they would be wary of the Kings’ attacking threat, coupled with a reckless abandon that has come with rumours they are set to be cut from a compressed Super Rugby competition in 2018.
“Last week they put three tries in 10 or 12 minutes, they had potential if they’d gotten another try to win the game,” he said.
“We’re fully aware of the threat they bring and if they bring them for 80 minutes, they’ve got nothing to lose.
“It’s our game, against their. They’ll come with a lot of flare and it’s important throughout that, regardless of what they bring and how the game can turn out, to stick to our guns, stick to what we know we can do if we do it right.”
Hooper said the week off would hopefully mean they could jump out of the blocks, turning around a season in which they’ve been the slowest starting team in terms of points conceded.
“It’s been tough going there so far this season in our starts for the year,” he said.
“We want (to make it) a tough start, we know it’ll put the Kings under pressure, make that loose, more risky rugby, so definitely a key factor for us.”
The Waratahs host the Kings on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.