Breaking the trans-Tasman Super Rugby drought is about the Waratahs, not the Kiwi opponents they face this weekend, lock Rob Simmons says.
The Waratahs appear to have the best chance of snapping the drought that any Australian team has had this year, facing a Blues outfit undermanned and under pressure.
NSW was the last team to beat a Kiwi franchise, beating the Chiefs in May 2016, and with the return of Israel Folau they look a major threat for their Auckland visitors this weekend.
Simmons said the key for NSW was to try and turn up the pace without being sucked into the Blues’ approach with the ball in hand, a fine balance to hit.
“From my experience, I think the way they play is probably a little bit faster, so I don't think we change our style or anything, we just need to up the speed and ante of our decision-making and the way we play,” he said.
“I remember a few years ago, when we used to play the Hurricanes was they love to throw it around and they would chance, they'd have a lot of turnovers and they would also have a lot of points leaked but they would create a lot of points,” he said.
“If you get into that, they're going to beat you every time.”
The Waratahs prefer a more mobile game but they know the harm of playing into their opponents’ hands, having a scoreless defeat at the hands of the Lions to show for that error a fortnight ago.
It’s a lesson Simmons said they had learned ahead of their critical clash with the Blues.
“I think that's what experience gets you,” he said.
“You've got a couple of young guys that when the ball gets thrown around, the crowd starts getting into it, you want to start doing a few of those things and if they come off, you get points and you can win games off them, but if you don't practise it during the week, then it's hard for the rest of the team to run off it.
“So you're offloading to no one and things like that.
“You need to do what you practise during the week, execute the best you can and as fast as you can.”
Coach Tana Umaga’s contract is yet to be extended by the club, and with just two wins so far this year and no derby victories since 2016, the spotlight is on the All Blacks legend.
Simmons has been a part of sides with coaches under siege before and said it wouldn’t make them any more vulnerable.
“It can hamper a team if you have back room chats happening, which doesn’t help a team but I think you can get over that as well,” he said.
“You've got to try and stay positive and look for the opportunities and nail a good week of training.”
The Waratahs will take on the Blues at Brookvale Oval, a switch forced because of an A-League final booking at Allianz Stadium.
Though Sydney FC missed out on the decider, there are no plans to revert the match to Allianz Stadium, with the Waratahs hoping fans flock to the more intimate Brookvale Oval.
Simmons is hoping for a more substantial contribution than his last outing at the Manly ground, lasting just half an hour in the Waratahs’ preseason trial against the Rebels and playing on just one hour’s sleep, after the birth of his son.
The Waratahs host the Blues on Saturday at Brookvale Oval, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.a RADIO. Buy tickets here.