Revenge looms as the key ingredient to bringing Australian rugby back to life this weekend as trans-Tasman debate rages about whether New Zealand will go it alone in 2021 and beyond.
The ACT Brumbies will spend six hours in transit on Saturday as they aim for their fifth consecutive win against the NSW Waratahs for the first time in 25 years of rivalry battles.
The Brumbies will go to and from Sydney on game day as part of Super Rugby AU's coronavirus restrictions, which are in place to limit the risk of players contracting COVID-19.
It's a trip cross-code rivals the Canberra Raiders have done many times since the NRL restart in May, but travel fatigue will be the furthest thing from Brumby minds when they chase history.
No team has won five ACT-NSW derbies in a row since their hatred spilled into the professional era when Super Rugby started in 1996. Super Rugby has lacked that crucial element in recent years and fans crave tribalism.
It gives them something to get excited about, even though the Brumbies have won seven of the past eight against their big-brother rivals.
The Waratahs will still be stewing on the thumping they copped in Canberra in the final game of the traditional Super Rugby format, which was stopped exactly four months ago on Wednesday.
A blowout again would be nice for the Brumbies, but Australian rugby needs free-flowing play and a bit of hatred to ignite passion on and off the field even though the 83,500-capacity venue will be almost empty because of fan restrictions.
The Brumbies are refusing to take the Waratahs lightly despite their NSW counterparts winning just two of eight games so far this year.
"It's always been a great grudge match and no doubt they'll be excited about it. We are, too. It should be a great game and a good one for everyone to watch," said Brumbies flanker Will Miller.
"It's intense on both sides. Down here there's the known rivalry from old times, but [the Waratahs] are definitely always ready for it and they'll be training for finals time. We have to match that intensity."
The Australia-only competition could be the way of the future if Rugby Australia and their New Zealand counterparts cannot agree on a trans-Tasman model.
Speculation New Zealand's preference is for an eight-team model, which would include just two or three Australian sides, has sparked a slanging match between the countries.
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All Blacks coach Ian Foster joined in on Wednesday, declaring to Newshub that New Zealand Rugby "isn't a charity". His predecessor Steve Hansen, former Rugby Australia chief executive John O'Neill and new Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan have weighed in as well.
Super Rugby is being run separately in New Zealand and Australia this year, but the widely supported plan is for the countries to join forces in a trans-Tasman competition from next year. New Zealand's "Aratipu" report will be presented to the NZR board on Thursday.
Australian rugby players are waiting for those details to be sorted before teams can start re-signing players, with contract negotiations banned until a broadcast deal is settled.
Australia could be forced to cull teams if they want to play with New Zealand, or create their own competition if they decide to step out alone.
The players, though, are only focused on winning the battle on the field. Which is perhaps the most important one, anyway.
"From the way the Waratahs play, they really try to test teams. They've got some skillful young players we have to be wary of. They've got some game-breakers, we'll have to be ready for that," said Brumbies fullback Tom Banks.
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND THREE
Saturday: NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies at Olympic Stadium, 7.15pm