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Waratahs conscious of empty trophy cabinet

NZN 23/03/2017 Darren Walton

The NSW Waratahs' trophy cabinet is all but empty and skipper Michael Hooper wants something done about it. Pronto.

Two years after the Waratahs held every piece of silverware on offer, Hooper's side travel to Melbourne on a mission to regain the Weary Dunlop Shield with victory over the Rebels on Friday night.

The Waratahs relinquished the shield last year with a shock home loss and then watched the Brumbies raise the Dan Vickerman Trophy last Saturday night with a derby defeat at Allianz Stadium.

The Bob Templeton Cup, fought out biannually between Queensland and NSW, is now the only trophy in the Waratahs' possession.

It's a far cry from the glory days of 2014 when the Tahs were Super Rugby champions, kings of the interstate battles and Bernard Foley and Israel Folau collected major individual gongs as the competition's leading pointscorer and tryscorer respectively.

Hooper admits it hurts to see the once-bulging trophy cabinet at NSW Rugby headquarters virtually bare.

"We walk through that part of the building every morning and it is empty. So it sucks," Hooper said.

"We want more stuff in there.

"Like on the weekend, we had the Vickerman Trophy - one hand on it at halftime.

"I thought it was our best half of rugby this year and we let it slip.

"It's been a sour change room, so we want to turn that around. We need to start getting that confidence and belief that we can do it.

"So a win's going to go a long way to helping that."

Hooper said the Waratahs' new-generation players also crave success.

"All the younger players, in particular - because we've got a good amount of them in the team - have seen the years previous of the Tahs and want to be a part of that, want to make their own history here," he said.

"That's really positive signs. It's just working out how we're going to do that for the 2017 team.

"That's obviously been slow for us this year, but I can never fault effort because it's been there in spades."

Hooper believes the same effort from the Waratahs, plus improved execution after some sloppy displays in the opening four rounds, will be required against the Rebels on their own patch.

"Both teams have a lot of X-factor," he said.

"It's going to come down to that 50-50 ball, whatever team dives on it first is probably going to get the win.

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