NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has described his trip to Canberra last year as the ''lowlight'' of his debut Super Rugby campaign, saying his team was ''humiliated'' in a 29-point loss to the ACT Brumbies and imploring it to make amends this week.
The Brumbies and Waratahs are set for a blockbuster Australian conference showdown at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night with the rivals battling for bragging rights.
The new generation Waratahs were smashed in their trip to Canberra last season, suffering a soul-destroying 35-6 defeat.
Cheika made no secret of the fact his first match in Canberra as a Super Rugby coach was embarrassing.
''We were humiliated in Canberra last year. We have to rectify that when the time comes,'' Cheika said.
''It's got nothing to do with getting a win away from home this season. In rugby, the way the story is written, you've go to try to atone for those days when it goes bad for you and you don't perform. That day in Canberra was one of those last year, that was a real lowlight for me and I want to make sure we're ready for this game to be competitive with the top team in Australia.''
''Tah Week'' is the biggest build-up to any match in Canberra in the Super Rugby season.
The Brumbies-Waratahs hatred has been bubbling for more than 20 years and the Brumbies players were considered NSW rejects when Super Rugby started in 1996.
Cheika got his taste of it when the rampaging Brumbies tore his team apart in the round-four clash last season.
The Waratahs got some revenge when they beat the Brumbies in Sydney later in the season, but Cheika wants a win in the capital. Canberra has traditionally been a graveyard for the Waratahs.
They did not win a game in Canberra until then NSW coach Ewen McKenzie and his team arrived in a Waratahs-emblazoned bus in 2005, parking it outside Canberra landmarks and hot spots for Brumbies players.
''They're always tight games in Canberra,'' said McKenzie, now the Wallabies coach.
''We'd never had a win in Canberra at that stage, you've got to start to do things that are bit more radical.
''Hoping isn't good enough, you've got to try to drive an outcome. You've got to get the belief in the players somehow … it was a bit radical with the bus. I still remember it. We went to Manuka to a joint where you can get pretty good milkshakes.
''Stevie Larkham lobbed there. The Brumbies used to have Manuka and Kingston as their home turf. They saw us sitting in their seats and invading their space.
''I don't know if it was confronting … you don't win the game there but you've got to generate confidence and play a few [mind] games.''
The Waratahs set the competition alight in their opening two games of the season, scoring 75 points, including five tries to Israel Folau.
The Brumbies got off to a slow start, but have found their rhythm in the past two weeks to get back-to-back wins.
Larkham was part of the inaugural Brumbies side and the ACT team that beat NSW for the first time in 1994.
''This game is massive. The Waratahs game is the No.1 game for us every year,'' coach Larkham said.
''The Waratahs have certainly started the season well, this is a hugely important game for us. There's a huge rivalry.
''There's a really proud history, it's a fierce rivalry. The Waratahs beat us in Sydney last year … it's one-all from last season, you can spin it however you want.
''Every game in Super Rugby is massive, but there's a little bit extra for a Waratahs game.''