Skipper puts pressure on Waratahs' back row to deliver
Skipper Jake Gordon has placed the onus on his back row to step up as the NSW Waratahs attempt a daring hit-and-run job on the high-flying Hurricanes on Friday night.
The Waratahs only arrived in Wellington late on Thursday for their important Super Rugby Pacific showdown in Wellington.
But the Tahs won't use travel fatigue as an excuse if they lose and fall to one win from four for the season.
"We've had a really good training week, the energy's really up," Gordon said after Thursday's captain's run at Sky Stadium.
"It's an exciting week for us to go up against the Kiwis who we've had some really good match-ups with."
Gordon is instead challenging the Waratahs' back row of veteran Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, Charlie Gamble and No.8 Langi Gleeson to combat the Hurricanes loose trio including All Blacks superstar Ardie Savea.
"Obviously they're a big mobile pack, with a real presence around the breakdown," Gordon said after Thursday's captain's run.
"As we saw in the Brumbies and Rebels games, we had some trouble removing some of the threats off the ball, a lot like the back row for the Hurricanes.
"The Hurricanes are also really expansive. They've got some real dangers in the outside backs. Our own turnaround around the contact area is really important.
"The breakdown is nowadays so heavily congested and what we've noticed, especially after the first three rounds, is our arrival time must be much quicker. We need to be much more aggressive in that area.
"With Charlie coming in, he's got really good on-ball presence."
As Gamble hopes to prove.
"It's an area we need to be working on," the newly-resigned cult hero said.
"Putting pressure on their breakdown, obviously they've got some pretty powerful ball runners and strike players out in the backs.
"So if we can slow the ruck down and steal a few turnovers, it will definitely go a long way towards getting a win."
After making the top-eight finals last year from a similar position, Gordon noted it wouldn't be panic stations if the Waratahs lost again after dropping two of their first three matches last season.
"We were in the same position last year," he said.
"It's been disappointing but we've got a really good team, on paper, so I've got full confidence that not only can we turn it around, it's not the be-all and end-all.
"We do need to start performing a little bit better. There is an awareness within the group that we need to do that.
"Bit it's only three rounds in. We can't be too hard on ourselves. "We know if we play well tomorrow, we will win. It's not an issue."