Lion tamers: Fortress holds no fear for Tahs
THEY'VE trekked across the Indian Ocean and have been thrown to the Lions at one of world rugby's most intimidating venues.
But the Waratahs insist they won't shrink back into their shells in the Super Rugby semi-final at Ellis Park on Saturday (11.05pm AEST).
NSW halfback Nick Phipps, fresh from one of his finest games in the stirring quarter-final triumph over the Highlanders, got on the front foot by rubbishing any talk of jetlag or the travel factor being insurmountable.
Instead, the Waratahs will continue to play the up-tempo style that stunned the Highlanders, rallying from a 23-6 half-time deficit to win 30-23 at Allianz Stadium.
NSW remain fourth favourite with the bookmakers, but the playing group believe a second Super Rugby title is within reach.
"I don't really know why there's always talk about travel being a massive factor," Phipps said.
"Every single person in the squad's travelled before and we're all complete professionals, we've got the best doctors and strength and conditioning in the country helping us out.
"It's no big issue. Everyone's in great spirits, people are ready to go.
"Over the last five years we've changed the way we like to play and we like to play quick, fast, unrelenting footy.
"So I don't think we're going to come to a semifinal and change the way we play now.
"We're not going to die wondering and we're going to play to the best of our ability."
For all that fighting talk, the Waratahs will have to overcome history to even progress to the final.
Winning away is a rarity in Super Rugby finals and the Lions embarrassingly blanked the Waratahs 29-0 in Sydney in April.
It was the first time NSW had been kept scoreless as they spurned numerous scoring opportunities and were outworked by star Lions forwards Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith.
"That's been the story all year, the patience side of it," Phipps said.
"We certainly know that when we've got the ball and hold onto it we've got the ability to play some great footy.
"I'm not going to draw too much out of the game.
"It certainly wasn't our greatest moment of the season.
"Both teams have developed so much in the way they play the game since then and it's a great opportunity for us to deliver the way we want to play, the style we want to play.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing the attitude the boys bring to all the little moments in the game."
Phipps said attacking breakdown accuracy would be crucial to their hopes of victory and curtailing the influence of the freakish Marx.
"They're quick on the ball," Phipps said.
"Marx got about four turnovers in 15 minutes on the weekend so we certainly know they have that ability to get on the ball.
"That's sort of been the story of our season.
"If we can get that attacking breakdown and securing that, the ability to play and put phases back to back, that's important for us.
"We know that they're going to go hard in that area.
"Every team has that's played against us."