Against the Blues this weekend, the Waratahs may have to rest a handful of others who are yet to spend a week on the sidelines.
Assistant coach Simon Cron said the NSW brains trust would think carefully about a plan of attack against the Blues, who beat the Waratahs 24-21 last season.
“You’ve got to trust your squad depth and build enough depth to handle those rotations,” Cron said. “The Sunwolves put in a team performance, it’s not down to a couple of guys rotated. The result doesn’t change it. It’s about what is best for the player and the squad and the Wallabies.
“All the different franchises have slightly different approaches. For us, realistically what we have to be wary of is just getting to the end of the season and having to rest everybody.
“Conference games are really important and because it’s conference points it’s like a double-down.”
Added importance on Australian conference games could be a hint that the Waratahs will still rest some of their stars for a game against a Blues team that have won their last three matches.
The Waratahs can take solace from the fact that rotating players does not just affect them. New Zealand Rugby’s protocols say that a break must be given after six consecutive games.
This means Ioane, the All Blacks speedster, will be unavailable for the match at Eden Park given he has reached the magic six mark.
His absence will be a relief for the Waratahs and particularly so after he scored a try in Saturday’s 24-9 win over the Stormers.
However, centre Sonny Bill Williams is looming as the danger man for NSW after an eye-catching performance off the bench but the Waratahs say they won’t give him any special attention.
“If you focus too much on one guy, you don’t on others,” Cron said. “The key thing for us is we’ve got some serious depth in that midfield. It’s working out who is best to play that game.”
Identifying one particular area where the Waratahs let themselves down in Newcastle is not as simple as you might think.
Asked to best sum up what went wrong, Cron gave a fairly lengthy list of issues that had been discussed.
“A lot of it comes down to us giving the ball back cheaply, execution, knock-ons, forward passes, kicking the ball out on the full,” Cron said. “We kicked a whole lot of times where we should have been building pressure and we probably released the pressure valve.
“There’s enough skill … we’ve just got to make sure we’re clear and precise. The smallest of errors in Super Rugby looks like a car crash and on the weekend we made a couple of errors on errors, so it culminated in tries to them.”
The Melbourne Rebels’ 32-13 victory over the Queensland Reds now puts them three points clear of the Waratahs at the top of the Australian conference. After the Blues match, NSW have the bye before meeting the Rebels in round 10 at the SCG.
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald