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Waratahs guilty of thinking too far ahead

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Sunday, July 15, 2018    Getty Images

The Waratahs were assured of their place in the playoffs ahead of the game, having achieved the top qualifying position in the Australian Conference and Gibson said they played as if they were already looking to next weekend's game in Sydney.

If anyone knows how dangerous that attitude would be next weekend it is Gibson whose Waratahs face a Highlanders side coached by his former Crusaders teammate Aaron Mauger. The Highlanders sealed their berth by beating the Rebels 43-37 in Dunedin. 

In their earlier game in the competition, the Waratahs beat the Highlanders 41-12 in Sydney.

"It probably shows us that if we don't turn up with the right attitude and intent, you're going to get beat," Gibson said after the loss.

"What you saw tonight was a team that was not focused on the job at hand and getting ahead of itself in terms of already being in next week.

"As a coach, that's disappointing because it's my responsibility to ensure we're focused on the job at hand," he said.

What especially frustrated Gibson was the lack of defensive effort by the Waratahs.

"I think there's some soft efforts there. We'll look at some of that tape and be disappointed with some of the effort there, particularly in the tackle and then post the tackle in terms of our urgency, to find our line again," he said.

Captain Bernard Foley said it was up to the players to ensure they had the right attitude against the Highlanders.

"I think it's on us, this whole week's on us. When we get it right, attack and defence, we can beat anyone. We've just got to get it right and come with the right attitude next week and adjust the fixes that we learned tonight," he said.

The side will have to play the Highlanders without captain and flanker Michael Hooper. While he was able to run water on Saturday he is not ready for a return to playing. Second five-eighths Kurtley Beale was only able to play part of Saturday's game due to illness while a hip injury has wing Cam Clark facing a race with time this week.