Waratahs captain Bernard Foley says his team has to lift with the rising Super Rugby stakes as they prepare for a Super Rugby finals campaign.
The Waratahs have locked up the Australian conference and a win over the Brumbies on Saturday night would secure them hosting rights for the first fortnight of finals.
Foley said a series of close losses to New Zealand sides especially had taught the Waratahs plenty ahead of the knockout stages.
“It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing but what it does is it makes everyone a lot hungrier,” he said.
“You definitely learn from those losses and learn what you can do different, especially to close out those tight games or when the momentum’s against you within games how you can wrestle back the control of the game.
“We’ve reviewed those games like we do every other game and we’ve grown and hopefully we continue growing throughout the rest of this season because that’s the challenge for us as a squad is when the moments get bigger we get bigger, we keep lifting and keep enjoying the occasion and that’s what it’s about.
“I think this side gets along really well socially and that definitely has an impact on the field when you show how tight we are as a group.”
The acting skipper said the Waratahs’ confidence was building with each week, and that drive would be key going into the playoffs.
“I think when it comes to footy and finals footy, it is the team with momentum, the team who can stand up in the middle of those big games when things are under pressure and deliver,” he said.
“That’s what I think we’ve seen with this team over the last couple of rounds is that belief is building and growing and excited by what’s ahead.”
The Waratahs backline has lit up stadiums throughout Super Rugby this year but their defence has been a major focus heading into the finals, Foley said.
“Defence is definitely a work on for us and it’s something we’ve been building for a while and it’s just a mindset, being a lot more composed in terms of knowing who’s around us and then the ability to get off the line, go up and make the stop,” he said.
“Missed tackles only happen when there’s a bit of inability to connect and that questioning each other or hesitation in the defensive line.
“For us, it’s just getting really clear on our roles, getting up and making the tackle.”
The Waratahs take on the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS or via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.