The Waratahs need to stand up against the Queensland Reds, literally, backrower Michael Wells says.
Three close losses and a win in a month of trans-Tasman clashes wasn’t deemed any kind of success for the Waratahs, though they still lead the Australian Super Rugby conference, and Wells said they had plenty to learn from that block of games.
Their 39-27 loss to the Chiefs had one of the highest ball in play minutes tallies of the season and Wells said it wasn’t good viewing in the post-match review.
“That's what we expect from Kiwi teams, open, running footy and that's what's exciting for the fans,” he said.
“I think it's something we're going to work on ourselves and the body language.
“It's not an excuse to cut corners or go a bit easier just because you're tired.
“If your life's on the line, which that's how we should be playing, you've got to make the effort and so we've rectified that, a few blokes have been put on notice and we'll be better this week.”
Wells said forwards coach Simon Cron had a ‘no hands on knees’ policy, picking out players in post-match reviews if they weren’t giving 100 per cent while skipper Michael Hooper didn’t stand for much dawdling on-field.
“A few hands on knees (against the Chiefs), which Cronny, it's a cardinal sin for him and so I would hazard a guess that not many guys would be on their haunches this week,” he said.
“Our on-field leaders are pretty strong about body language, Hoops particularly, because he's an energizer bunny, he doesn't stop.
“ So, he expects the same from the other 14 guys on the field and obviously review's a pretty sobering moment when blokes see Cronny pull up clips and they're on their haunches and they're sucking in the deep ones, so Cronny drives that as well.”
The Waratahs won’t get much of a let-up this weekend, as they face a hard-working, albeit inconsistent Reds outfit, finding its rhythm under Brad Thorn.
“They're a very physical team and they present their own challenges,” he said.
“They've got some strong ball runners and they love the grind, obviously Brad Thorn's instilled that in them this year.
“We know what we're going to get from them, it's going to be physical, it's going to be won in the trenches particularly in the forwards and if we aim up, we'll put ourselves in a good stead.”
Wells is enjoying a career-best year with the Waratahs, stepping into the void left by the injured Jack Dempsey, and he and the team are growing with confidence each week.
"The more game time you play, the better chance you have of showing you're actually cut out for this sort of stuff," he said.
"I think this has actually given me the best chance, the more game time I've had.
"The team's also been going better and...a winning team the players perform better and the vibe's obviously happier around.
"I think that obviously helps everyone."
The Waratahs take on the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.