Waratahs captain Dave Dennis was disappointed to miss out on Wallabies selection for the upcoming series against France but is comfortable with the decision.
Dennis narrowly missed out on a call-up after coach Ewen McKenzie chose to name five second-rowers, three of whom are uncapped, and six back-rowers in his 32-man squad last week.
Waratahs title credentials on the line
The Waratahs have a big chance of winning the competition if they can beat the defending champs, the Chiefs in New Zealand.
The versatile NSW back-rower, who plays at No.6 and No.8 for the Waratahs and calls their lineouts, has been a regular in a gold jersey after his debut against Scotland in 2012, playing 18 Tests primarily at blindside breakaway. He missed out on a call-up for the British and Irish Lions series under Robbie Deans last year and was not selected in McKenzie's first Wallabies squad when he took over in August.
But Dennis played four Tests after starting on the bench on the side's end of year tour of Europe and was used to market the new Wallabies jersey shortly before McKenzie named a side without him.
"Any time you miss out it's disappointing but I had a good chat with Ewen and I know where I'm at with my game and what he wants from me," Dennis said. "I understand what he's trying to do with the make-up of the squad and blooding some new locks. It's 12 months out from a World Cup, you need to give guys some opportunities, so I'm comfortable with that decision that he made."
The Waratahs flew to New Zealand on Thursday night before their clash with two-time Super Rugby champions the Chiefs in New Plymouth. Dennis said he still had ambitions to make it into the Wallabies squad before next year's World Cup.
"I still have ambitions to play in the gold jersey in the World Cup next year, so I just have to keep working hard. I've always been a glass-half-full kind of guy so I'm looking at the positives," he said. "I'm just lucky I get an opportunity to stay here and lead the boys and be in the hunt for the finals with the Waratahs."
Dennis will go head to head with All Blacks breakaway Liam Messam, who moves back to No.6 as one of eight changes coach Dave Rennie made after the side's dismal loss to the Hurricanes.
"With [former captain Craig Clarke] not playing, Messam has a big role in that forward pack in terms of controlling what they do," Dennis said. "We know we're going to have to be patient in attack. No disrespect to the Rebels, but the Chiefs will challenge us for the full 80 minutes. It's going to be a high-pressure match and it will be the team who can play with a lot of energy and stick to their game for the whole length of it that [wins].
"We've proven we can do that but probably still haven't proved we can do it consistently for the whole match. We're still chasing that as a team."