Underdog status driving Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

An Australian team going across the ditch as rank outsiders, against a red-hot Kiwi outfit, and returning empty-handed.

It sounds like a familiar story, with a familiarly disappointing ending, but Waratahs forward Ned Hanigan has reason to feel positive about this weekend’s trans-Tasman encounter.

The last time he was part of that tale, the Wallabies shocked many, falling just a dubious restart short of the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe last year.

NSW will go to Christchurch as $8.50 underdogs, against a Crusaders outfit that has won its past 13 home matches in a row and hasn't lost to the Waratahs at home since 2004.

Hanigan said their underdog tag only added to their desire ahead of the match.

“It's motivation in itself,” he said.

“We're probably going over there with (long) odds, so knowing we're coming into an arena that no one thinks you're going to win's almost working to our advantage.

“We're making sure we get our roles right and then going over there and whatever's happening over there's got nothing to do with us.

“We're there to put a very good performance together, which I think we'll do.”The Waratahs have announced their 2017 results. Photo; Getty ImagesWhen the Waratahs have found wins in New Zealand in the past through gritty defensive efforts, but Hanigan said they couldn’t abandon their attacking firepower against Super Rugby’s best defence.

“Defence is an important part of the game, but so is attack,” he said.

“We had a performance a couple of weeks ago, where we didn't score any tries and it wouldn't matter if you defended the house down, you're still not going to win that game.

“So, scoring points is obviously still important and stopping them's bloody important as well.”

The next month will be a critical one for individual players’ fortunes as well, with the Wallabies’ June Series against Ireland one month away.

With three matches against New Zealand opposition and then a derby against the Reds, success could mean more than just a rise up the Super Rugby table as players jostle for squad spots.

"If we win the next four, that'll make Cheika's decision probably a bit easier because we've put our own performance on the paddock that will have to be good to beat these sides,” he said.

“I haven't put a lot of thought into it to be really honest with you, we're coming off a loss and we're going over to Christchurch to prove a point.”

The Waratahs take on the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.