Think Queensland has a mortgage on interstate passion? Waratahs defence coach Nathan Grey says you need to think again.
The Reds have rolled out some past players in the lead up to Saturday’s must-win Templeton Cup clash, with coach Nick Stiles one of the most vocal about the importance of the rivalry.
When asked his thoughts on the notion that Queenslanders held the match on a higher pedestal, Grey was typically forthright.
“That's bull****,” he said.
“When it comes to delivering on the field there's nowhere to hide on the field and talk during this week is not a very strong currency, it's a bit like the Ran.
“You need to do it on the field and that's where you do all your talking and that's what we're very much focused on.
“It's great that people come out and are really passionate about it and support it but the great thing about rugby is once you cross the white line there's 15 blokes in red jerseys and 15 blokes in blue jerseys, so that's the real exciting thing.”
Ironically, Grey has camped on both sides of the border, a The Southport School alumnus who played two Super Rugby games for Queensland, before returning to his native New South Wales.
Though, that’s somewhat of a dirty little secret for the former Wallabies centre.
“I don't tell too many people that I played two for Queensland but I was lucky enough to play a fair few for New South Wales and I loved beating Queensland,” he said.
Though the performance of Australia’s Super Rugby teams has seen interest wane in the past two seasons especially, Grey said internally the edge was still incredibly sharp.
Rather than being weighed down by the extra element to the game, Grey said the Waratahs were soaking it all in.
“The edge is definitely still there,” he said.
“The guys are very much aware of the importance of the competition and you throw where we are in terms of our season into that as well and it's exciting.
“We've really encouraged the guys this week not to be bogged down by that. Embrace it, enjoy it and go there and express themselves, that's been the mantra for the week.”
Lock Dean Mumm, who return to the NSW starting side on Saturday, is a player who remembers watching the derbies as a kid, and said 2017 form would be irrelevant as the Waratahs vie for their seventh-straight win over the Reds..
“I don't think you can hide away from the fact that no Australian team's doing particularly well but I don't think the context of the season often matters when it comes to this clash because traditionally it means so much to us,” he said.
“All of us as kids, as young rugby players growing up remember some of the great battles - Phil Waugh, David Croft battles as we were growing up and some of the great rivalries that have occurred.
“You get pretty excited watching that but also the chance to write your own history in that moment is pretty important for us."
The Reds host the Waratahs on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.