NSW Waratahs and former Wales centre Jamie Roberts is embracing the chance to play finals football after their remarkable turnaround in 2022.
Roberts joined the squad at the start of the season following a disappointing 2021 campaign, instantly recognising the talent and drive to get better.
“That was the challenge. I knew from looking at the team after a few weeks that we had the potential of doing that," he told reporters when asked if he expected to be playing in the finals.
“I think we’ve grown throughout the season. We’re a group who are pretty tough, well-coached quality players who have brought into what Darren and the coaches have brought to the team.
“It doesn’t surprise me that we’re in the playoffs. Obviously, we’re going to have to do it the hard way going to NZ in the quarter-final but there’s a lot of quality in this team that are only going to get better and certainly the only way was up after last season.”
Roberts has nearly done it all throughout his illustrious career, however, a domestic title has always escaped him.
The closest he managed was a semi-final in France with Racing in 2014, beat 16-6 by a star-studded Toulon side that included Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Jonny Wilkinson and Bryan Habana.
With the club building for the future, the 35-year-old wants the youthful squad to stay in the moment and embrace Friday's quarter-final against the Chiefs, knowing how rare the opportunity can be.
“In sport you have to live for the moment, hearing people talk about developing for next year breaks me. Sport is about the present and winning, being at the business end, there and then,” he said.
“This group won’t play together again after this season - I won’t be here again - a lot of the players won’t be, because they’re moving on.
“When you make games like this, you have to understand and realise they might not come around again.
“Certainly from experience and what I’ve been in my career, when you play in big games like this, and the more you do it, the more you appreciate that, and maybe a lot of younger players in this group don’t. They might be thinking, ‘we’ll build for next season, we’ll build for the season after’, all you end up doing is having the same conversations, year on year.
“You have to live in the moment and this group certainly knows the task at hand this week for us, what happened at Melbourne, we know where we’re at against New Zealand opposition certainly after the weekend so we know we have to be at our best.”