As much as the title suggests this is quote from a South African coach, it is not, it actually comes from the top Australian franchise in recent years.
For all the scintillating attacking play in Vodacom Super Rugby this season, success will be secured by defence, Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said on Tuesday.
The Waratahs take on Perth’s Western Force this weekend in round eight of the southern hemisphere’s provincial championship, which has already proved a much tighter, more defensively orientated affair than last year’s try-fest.
“We had a new set of law interpretations last year and teams have come to terms with that now,” Hickey told reporters at the Waratahs training ground.
“So they’ve worked hard on their defence as well as their attack. Ultimately when you look at the table at the end of the year, the teams in the top six will be the teams who’ve got the best defensive records.”
The first priority for the Waratahs’ defence on Saturday will be to shut down Wallabies back James O’Connor, who despite the Force’s four defeats in six games is the second-highest scorer in the competition.
“He’s playing really well at the moment and whether he plays at 10 or 12 he’ll be a threat,” Hickey added. “Some of it’s about how we defend and we’ll have some strategies in place for that.
“The other factor is the quality of possession he gets so we’ve got to try and make sure he’s not playing on the front foot. That’s where a player of his quality really comes into the game.”
Although the two defeats they have suffered have come at the hands of New Zealand’s Canterbury Crusaders and South Africa’s Cheetahs, Hickey said the national conference system introduced for this season is making life harder for the Waratahs.
“The local derbies are going to be really important in this competition,” he said. “You play those teams twice rather than once and they are quite often the hardest games.
“In these games, form doesn’t really count for much and it’s the same in New Zealand and South Africa. They’ve added another edge to the game and another challenge.
“Certainly in the Australian conference teams rise to the occasion when they’re playing the Waratahs. It just makes it a stronger challenge for us.”
The Waratahs, semi-finalists last year, will be chasing a clean sweep of victories over their Australian rivals without inspirational captain Phil Waugh and regular flyhalf Berrick Barnes.
With Barnes restricted to kicking practice on Tuesday after suffering a concussion, Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale will wear the number 10 shirt in Perth as he did in the 23-16 victory over the Waikato Chiefs last weekend.
“His good performance against the Chiefs will help him,” said Hickey. “This time he’ll be used to playing in traffic a little bit more and hopefully he’ll build on that performance.”
Better news on the injury front came from experienced prop Al Baxter, who missed the Chiefs match but declared himself fit and available for selection after coming through a gruelling training session on Tuesday