Departing Waratahs centre Rob Horne says Australian rugby can find its groove again, but there’s only one way that can happen on the field.
The 27-year-old will play what will likely be his final NSW home game this weekend, against the Jaguares, ending a decade-long stint at the Waratahs, which has seen some peaks and troughs.
Horne said while there was clearly dissatisfaction with Super Rugby at a broader level, as the governing body goes through an increasingly messy process to try and cut a team, there was still a strength underpinning the code in Australia.
“I think you've seen in club rugby, just the turnout to club rugby's been immense this year because there is such a passion for the game,” he said.
“But through the external stuff too, there's maybe a bit of (disillusionment) about some things.
“I'm completely confident and comfortable in the game in Australia - I know how much support there is.
“The other codes would love to have that underlying support and that belief and that love of the game that we have.
“We're in a unique position, we're a world game that is played everywhere in massive markets.
“The game is not in as bad a shape as it's being portrayed.”
Horne is adamant Australian rugby has the talent to compete, and beat New Zealand, and said it was inevitable that the All Blacks would always be their ultimate measure.
“For Australian rugby, we're benchmarked against the best team in the world, which is New Zealand,” he said.
“That's fair enough and until we can compete and beat them regularly that's going to be the way we're judged.
“I think as players we're content with that because that's the only way it should be judged - if you're the best in the world or not.”
And though the players have voiced their sense of helplessness when it comes to the ongoing Super Rugby saga, the results are the one thing Horne said they had to take hold of.
“We get the opportunity to go out on the weekend and perform and that's our responsibility and that's what we have to do,” he said.
“We go out and play well and get results then the other stuff, that's out of our hands but that's what we can control and we're fortunate that we can control that because that's what supporters want to see.”
Horne will head to Northampton at the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season, but certainly won’t be forgetting the place in which he began his rugby career, and also his adult life.
“It’s shaped who I am as a person to an extent and I love playing for NSW and it's something that I'm going to hold highly for a long time.
“To play rugby for my state and to be able to do that for 10 years, I feel very fortunate and very privileged because I know a lot of guys that have been here and love this team as well haven't had that opportunity.
“I'm very grateful to be able to be here as long as I have and hopefully have contributed a bit and left something behind as well.”
The Waratahs take on the Jaguares on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.