The Rebels might think they have their hands on the blueprint to beat the Waratahs but NSW have their own inside man.
Nick Phipps, a foundation member of the Melbourne franchise who signed with NSW after learning Luke Burgess was on then-coach Damien Hill's radar, has learnt his old teammates are putting serious hours into contact work in the pursuit of supremacy at the ruck.
"Talking to a few of the boys, they do contact every day, which has its good and its bad traits, but they've worked really hard on that," Phipps said.
"Our breakdown got battered a bit down there at that trial [game in February], we know they'll be hard on the ball and the [NSW] boys will be firing up after that last game for some redemption down there."
The Rebels have a strong recent record against the Waratahs, having won back the Weary Dunlop Shield last season in a 24-22 thriller at AAMI Park. The Waratahs were also victims of the Melbourne side's perfect pre-season run, going down 33-28 in Albury in February.
New coach Tony McGahan has overhauled the squad to produce the beginnings of an abrasive and successful new style characterised by tough back-rowers Scott Higginbotham and Sean McMahon and powerful backs such as Tamati Ellison and Tom English.
"Their backs are running a lot more direct lines, trying to run blind and keep the breakdown on the ball and they're always attacking, playing quick taps and quick lineouts," Phipps said.
"They had a good game [first up against the Cheetahs], then lost to the Force pretty convincingly, then last week [against the Crusaders] they were in it until about the 60th or 70th minute, so they'll be looking forward to travelling to Sydney . . . They'll be confident and stinging to have a crack at us."
The story Waratah Nick Phipps warns ruck supremacy the Rebels' new cause first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.