The next month will be a defining one for Australian rugby, as players fight for positions and respect, Waratahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps says.
After 17 straight losses to New Zealand teams this season and the Wallabies’ June Series is right around the corner, the Waratahs scrumhalf said the next month leading into the break would be pivotal for both NSW, but also the wider Australian landscape.
“We've got three games to really define ourselves, we've got five games for the rest of the season and we've just got to keep knocking on the door,” - Nick Phipps.
“We know the only way into the finals is to win our conference, so we've just got to keep knocking on the door.
“If we can get out of the next three-game block with a couple of wins and some bonus points wins, it's all tossed up and then finals footy is a different beast.”
“Right across Australia it's a pretty defining time because not only are players playing for positions but they're also playing for a lot of respect around their clubs and their franchises and fans.”
Phipps hasn’t lost faith in Australian rugby, though he’s at the coalface of the Waratahs’ lowest ebb in recent memory, and urged fans to stay on board.
“I still feel like there's that core group that will always support us,” he said.
“They have every right they have to be disappointed in some of the performances from the Australian teams but at the end of the day, they've got to see that effort and that desire to get better.
“I know that those ones that stick by will really reap the rewards when things turn around and the shoe's on the other foot.”
The Waratahs’ own issues seem to be confounding the players, with Phipps saying the senior players are looking for a solution.
“For us as a leadership group, we're doing a lot of work behind the scenes trying to really work, trying to figure it out and such a hard thing to read at the moment,: he said.
“We tweak something and it feels really good and it's still not getting out there.
“We've tweaked our warm up a little bit, tweaked our captain's run a little bit.
“We couldn't have felt more confident a few times heading out for the game, watching the boys go out there and then I don't know what it is between change room and stepping on to the field.
“It's something we know we've got to get a bit better at that's for sure.
“There's no point leaking 26 points early and then trying to come back." - Nick Phipps
“A lot of teams aren't going to let you come back from that. They have all the control, all the ball, all the territory and all the power from that position.”
The Waratahs have a bye this week before facing the Rebels at Allianz Stadium in a fortnight.