Gibson applauds Australian Super Rugby sides
The Kiwi in NSW Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson believes it would be foolish for New Zealand teams to underestimate Australian Super Rugby sides in 2014.
The Queensland Reds in 2011 are the only Australian team to have won a Super title in the past decade and many questioned whether Australian rugby had the depth of player talent to cope when the Melbourne Rebels joined the competition three years ago.
But while it's only early days, Australian teams currently occupy three of the top seven places on the ladder - compared to New Zealand's one - and have won four of their six matches against foreign opposition.
"Across the board, Australian teams have improved quite a bit," said former All Black Gibson, enjoying his second season at the Waratahs after four years as assistant coach of the all-conquering Crusaders.
"We all want to make sure that our conference is respected and I think so far the performances of all the Australian teams against foreign opposition has been very good.
"Putting my New Zealand cap on here, we always knew Australian sides were very well prepared for this time of the year.
"(But) since my time in Australia, I think the New Zealand teams probably underestimate the Australian conference, and I think that's a general sort of feeling - that the Australian conference is the weaker one.
"In my view, that's incorrect and something as a conference and all teams would be keen to rectify and make sure that we're a respected force."
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis says it's pleasing to see all five Australian Super Rugby franchises playing with more consistency.
"You look at the way the (Western) Force are going. They've had a couple of good wins now," Dennis said on Thursday.
"The (Melbourne) Rebels started well, the (Queensland) Reds are always there and the (ACT) Brumbies are getting back to that winning way after a slow start.
"So it's always going to be tough in this conference and I think definitely this year every team's performance is a lot more consistent in terms of the quality of it.
"It's a good sign for Australian rugby."