AAP

First-year coach Michael Cheika has challenged his NSW Waratahs to show some bottle and revive their flagging Super Rugby season after slumping to a third loss in four matches.

NSW's 27-26 home loss to the Cheetahs on Friday night was the Waratahs' 11th defeat from their past 12 matches and Cheika admits the team is suffering from the anxiety of years of failed campaigns.

Cheika also concedes it may take months for the Tahs to embrace his ball-in-hand culture.

"That's the only fair thing to say because maybe not everyone is into the identity that we want to have," Cheika said.

"But I think the majority of the guys are and we're just going to keep pushing towards that.

"There's disappointments along the way everywhere and surely no one is more disappointed now than me.

"But you've got to be strong and believe in yourself, and in the planning I have for the team I understand there's going to be hard times along the way."

Despite his frustration on watching his side blow a golden opportunity to balance their 2013 win-loss ledger to 2-2, Cheika is refusing to give up hope of making the finals.

Asked if troops had the bottle to fight their way back, he said: "We're going to find out aren't we".

"We've talked about it a fair bit, around the self-belief of the team after a few hard years and that's just a battle we're going to have to get through.

"Guys are going to have to keep reinforcing it because you can't worry about it. We're going to feel it again now and we've just got to have the resolve to say `I'm going to fight my way out of this and the team is going to become better as a consequence'.

"It's part of rugby."

Skipper Dave Dennis is also backing the Waratahs to emerge from their funk and was unfazed about the inevitable flak heading his side's way.

"Losing hurts a lot more than what's written in the paper," Dennis said.

"The boys are going to stay strong together and fight our way out of it, regardless of what's being written, or what's been said outside the group.

"It's a matter of everyone focusing on what we're trying to achieve as a team, and winning games of footy."

The Tahs will likely be without Berrick Barnes for next Sunday's home game against the Blues after the luckless Wallabies playmaker dislocated his right thumb just 17 minutes into his comeback from a knee injury.

But in some welcome good news for the Waratahs, a scan on Saturday revealed no fracture for Barnes.

The Waratahs also on Saturday confirmed the worst-kept secret in Australian rugby by announcing Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps would join the franchise in 2014 on a two-year deal.