NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is eager to see where his side measures up in the Australian conference as they prepare for their first derby of the Super Rugby season against the in-form Melbourne Rebels.
The Waratahs will welcome back Wallabies pair Sekope Kepu and Rob Simmons for Sunday's clash at Allianz Stadium but Ned Hanigan is in doubt after picking up a shoulder injury in their disappointing defeat to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
Gibson admitted their lack of energy in defence during the 38-28 loss was a concern, and one that needs to be addressed quickly, given the way the Rebels have clinically exposed their opponents in three straight bonus-point wins.
But he won't have much training time to fix it, with workloads to be reduced this week as players recover from their tough two-week around-the-world tour.
"That's the difficult thing, we come out of a game where we see a lot of corrections that can be making technically," Gibson told reporters. "But we see the biggest obstacle is being physically prepared, and that's the first priority."
Gibson has taken on the defence coaching portfolio himself this season following the departure of Nathan Grey to a full-time Wallabies role. He said the effect of travel was the chief reason why they were "slightly off" against the Jaguares, when they conceded four tries inside the first 20 minutes.
"That is one of the things we will be addressing, what was a real strength of ours in the first two games, getting back to something close to that quality of defence," he said.
The timely inclusion of Kepu and Simmons will help strengthen the NSW scrum after it was torn to shreds in Argentina.
Gibson said the key to shutting down the Rebels was silencing Will Genia and Amanaki Mafi, who he said had been their most influential players across the opening part of the season.
"(How we) reduce their effectiveness is a large part in how you win the game," he said. "They're playing really sound football, and really taking their opportunities in each of their games.
"We've just completed the toughest part of our year so we're looking forward to just seeing where we stack up. That, for me, is the most interesting part of the game."