fan

True blue: A fan at Tuesday's parade. Photo: Getty Images

After being cheered to victory by almost 62,000 people in Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders in Sydney, the Waratahs turned Tuesday's victory parade into an opportunity to thank supporters.

Not long ago, the Waratahs were struggling to regain the faith of a once-loyal fan base. Under coach Michael Cheika, who took over the team last year, they have reassured the disillusioned – many of whom have returned.

So many, in fact, that Waratahs fans contributed most to Super Rugby's record gathering at ANZ Stadium for the final.

Standing proud: Waratahs captains Michael Hooper and Dave Dennis.

Standing proud: Waratahs captains Michael Hooper and Dave Dennis. Photo: Getty Images

Tuesday’s parade at Martin Place, hosted by Premier Mike Baird, was meant to be a chance for fans to cheer the Waratahs one more time.

But no sooner had the Waratahs arrived to face an estimated lunchtime crowd of 5000, the players and staff were the ones lauding their fans.

“I don’t think anyone expected this,” Cheika said, addressing the sea of people.

Sydney celebrates: Martin Place comes alive for the Waratahs.

Sydney celebrates: Martin Place comes alive for the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

“Actually we are a bit lucky some of the lads are back from their night out – it’s only been a couple of days.

“I think we would have come from anywhere to get a reception like this. It’s really unbelievable.”

Cheika, whose charges were understandably weary from their title-winning celebrations, which included a cruise on the harbour on Monday, made it clear he and the Waratahs believed the home fans made a difference in their 33-32 win.

“It’s amazing the support you get when you are being supported by your fan base in your home town,” he said.

“It is something that is absolutely indescribable and it pushes you to do things you wouldn’t do normally. 

"And I think that is what happened to us on Saturday night.”

Then, in reference to the long-range, match-winning penalty kick by five-eighth Bernard Foley in the last minute, Cheika said: “Those extra couple of metres that Bernard Foley got with his kick was probably due to the crowd out there.”

Fittingly, the crowd cheered.