The Waratahs sit on the top of the Australian conference, but they’re not counting their title chances just yet, forwards coach Simon Cron says.
Their win over the Reds on Saturday night was the latest in a clean sweep of their Australian conference counterparts, but they’re about to begin a run of matches against overseas opposition, with the Lions this week, before a bye and a block of trans-Tasman affairs.
Cron said while they were in a good spot at the halfway mark of the season, there wasn’t any premature celebrating at Daceyville.
“Our conference at the moment, there's obviously naturally an internal battle between all the Australian teams, but on any given day, each of those sides are really good,” he said.
“I think it would be stupid to be cocky and Hoops (captain Michael Hooper) said at the end of the game, the most important thing for the boys is that they understand now and then they'll get a pat on the back but they haven't earned that yet.
“We're only eight games in, it's a big season and if you drop your guard or you drop your game by five per cent, you'll lose."
The overwhelming message from their most recent win on Saturday was one of a team still yet to reach its potential, with plenty of errors creeping into their games, and that was the view Cron took on Monday as well.
“I think the boys understand where they stand and they also understand how many opportunities we had on the weekend that we didn't take,” he said.
“You can't afford to do that against the best teams.
“I think we are still a massive work in progress and the boys have a lot of little individual things we need to fix and systems.
“We're not jumping the gun.”
The Lions will be a challenging defensive prospect, with the brute force of their South African counterparts, coupled with a Kiwi philosophy when it comes to attack.
“Defensively, they will test us from 1-15,” he said.
“I don't think there's a gap in their attack. So, I think it'll be the biggest test, defensively.
“We'll shift the ball, they'll shift the ball, so, defensively (we've) got to make sure we're connected.
“They're a big physical side too, so they'll punch you and shift and punch you and shift.
“So, we've got to make sure our first contact is really good contact.”
Cron was confident all three of Will Miller (shoulder), Michael Wells (shoulder) and Rob Simmons (sternum) would be cleared to play on Friday night, despite pulling up sore on the weekend.
The Waratahs take on the Lions on Friday night at Allianz Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.