Connal McInerney could barely string a few words together the day a team of misfits and rejects stepped up to fire their first shot at their bitter Super Rugby rivals.
The modern day hooker was little more than one year old when the ACT Brumbies were thrashed 44-10 by the NSW Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium in Super Rugby's infancy.
But the hatred had already been festering for years, long before the days of the Brumbies.
They once were Kookaburras wearing Lowes blazers with ordinary ties, shafted to the dour rooms of the Rooty Hill RSL before a clash with NSW back in 1994.
ACT rugby had always lived in a sky blue shadow. But the balance of power has shifted significantly in recent years.
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The Brumbies head into Saturday night's Super Rugby AU clash with the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium as reigning champions, while NSW are inexperienced, depleted, and hurting after a round one hammering.
While you might not go so far as to say today's rivalry borders on hatred, there is little doubt "Tah week" still means something in Canberra.
"It's huge. The rivalry is just the same as it was 10, 20 years ago," McInerney said.
"They obviously had a disappointing first round but we know they're going to come down the highway and not want to get rolled over. They're going to be right up for it.
"Lachie Swinton is back for them as well, that will give them some extra mongrel in the forward pack. It's going to be a tough battle."
Brumbies assistant coach Laurie Fisher admits the rivalry is not something the staff drive as hard as they once did but there is still a hint of added determination at club headquarters this week.
Because who could ever forget the finals showdowns, like when the Brumbies put 51 points to shatter NSW's title dream in 2002, or when the Waratahs turned the tables in the 2014 semi-final.
Or even last year, when Issak Fines-Leleiwasa split the NSW defence to score a match-winner in the dying moments of a thriller.
"We would take pride in preparing well every week, but I guess there is always an edge against the guys up the road," Fisher said.
"It's an individual thing, perhaps some guys do [feel like they have a chip on their shoulder against NSW], whether they haven't succeeded in their pathways or their systems as they would have liked and have sought opportunity down here."
It's huge. The rivalry is just the same as it was 10, 20 years ago.Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney
Take Irae Simone as an example. He struggled for a look in at the Waratahs, before arriving at the Brumbies and forcing his way into a Wallabies jersey.
Now Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has issued a call to arms for Canberra to join the stampede.
"Brumbies and the Tahs, it's always a game that has attracted a big crowd," McKellar said.
"Hopefully the local ACT and Canberra rugby community gets behind it, and others as well.
"People who might not normally go to a Brumbies game have got an opportunity to see some really good rugby on a Saturday night in good conditions."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND TWO
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Gem and Stan Sport. Tickets from Ticketek.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. James Slipper, 2. Connal McInerney, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Jahrome Brown, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Mack Hansen, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Tom Cusack, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.
NSW Waratahs squad: 1. Angus Bell, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Sam Caird, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Calo Tizzano, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jack Grant, 10. Will Harrison, 11. James Ramm, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Alex Newsome (c), 14. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. David Poreki, 17. Te Tera Faulkner, 18. Sio Tatola, 19. Jeremy Williams, 20. Hugh Sinclair, 21. Henry Robertson, 22. Tane Edmed, 23. Triston Reilly.
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