THE NSW Waratahs will begin their 2017 Super Rugby campaign in Sydney at Allianz Stadium this Saturday night against the Western Force determined to make amends for their disappointing 10th place finish last year.
Their aim, according to inside centre David Horwitz, is no less than making the semifinals and challenging for the title.
Horwitz, 22, who made his Super Rugby debut for the Tahs last year and went on to play in 13 of their 15 games, told The AJN on Monday the squad is stronger, more experienced and hungry for success.
“I think we have to be a lot more dominant early in the season and also make sure we win all our games against the other Australian teams, which we didn’t do last season,” he said.
“That’s going to be very important. We also need to be more consistent,” he said.
“Last season we had a lot of youngsters join the squad and they will all be better for the experience.
“Our goal is definitely to come first in the Australian conference, and make the semifinals.”
Horwitz said he’s had an ideal preparation and is feeling more settled and comfortable playing at Super Rugby level.
“This preseason has been a lot smoother for me, because last year I only started training a few months before round one because of an injury,” he said.
“I have a lot more confidence and I know what’s required [in Super Rugby] as I have some experience now.
“In that sense, I can be a bit more of an authority at training and start helping some of the other young guys in the squad.”
On paper, the Waratahs look to have the most depth out of the five Australian teams, and have the most Wallaby representatives in their squad, including captain Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps and Israel Folau.
While Kurtley Beale and Tatafu Polota-Nau have departed, talented young scrum half Jake Gordon, and new forward signings Tolu Latu and Sekope Kepu, are capable -replacements.
Horwitz said with such a strong squad, there will be a tougher selection process for starting places this year, particularly in the backline, but he views that as a positive situation for him.
“It has to be a positive, and it is a good motivator,” he said.
“The Waratahs have such a good, supportive culture – while the people you train with are also your competition [for places], you see the strength of their qualities and try to emulate that and continually improve.
“In my position [inside centre] the club has signed a very good player called Irae Simone who has been in great preseason form, so that’s really going to push me.”
After playing the Western Force, the Waratahs will travel to South Africa in rounds one and two to take on the Lions and Sharks.