Moment of truth for Australian Super Rugby teams
WITH no local derbies in week six, Australia's Super Rugby moment of truth has arrived as they prepare for a weekend against New Zealand opposition.
The Brumbies have the bye but the other four Aussie teams will all confront Kiwi teams brimming with confidence and looking to ram home their superiority.
It's a chilling prospect.
Despite going close on a number of occasions, Australian teams are none from seven against their trans-Tasman foes so far this season.
Zero. Zilch. Zip.
Those dire numbers come on the back of Australia's worst year against New Zealand opposition, when they won just three of 26 matches in 2016.
Nor are the appalling numbers confined to just New Zealand opposition.
Australia's five franchises have just six wins from the opening five rounds of the competition, five of which have been all-Aussie encounters.
The Reds are the only side that have chalked up a victory against foreign opposition.
On that occasion, way back in week one, the Reds snuck home 28-26 against the Sharks after Springbok Pat Lambie missed a late penalty.
Since 2011 - when Super Rugby expanded to include the Rebels - Australian sides have won 104 of 272 games against foreign opposition (38.2 per cent).
Interestingly, Australia had a purple patch in 2013 and 2014 against foreign opposition, including against New Zealand, where winning percentages crept above 50 per cent.
But those results have nosedived since 2015.
And, unfortunately for Australian rugby, it's hard to see those results turning around this weekend.
Just when it looked like the Waratahs were getting their season back on track - after a gutsy come-from-behind win against the Rebels - they received the crushing news that linchpin fly-half Bernard Foley is experiencing the same concussion symptoms that kept him out of the first month of Super Rugby action.
While the Waratahs didn't go as far as ruling him out against the undefeated Crusaders on Sunday in Sydney, the early statement suggests he'll likely spend another lengthy period on the sidelines.
His absence would be the right thing for the player, but is the worst possible timing for the team as they have a dire record without him.
The Reds, too, face a mountain to climb as they return home from Argentina to play the Hurricanes in Brisbane without Quade Cooper.
Without him last weekend, the Reds attack was pedestrian against the Jaguares and made little use of the mountain of possession they had.
The Rebels' chances of breaking their duck for 2017 don't get any better as they travel to Dunedin to play the Highlanders, who despite being last in the New Zealand conference will present an almighty challenge.
And the Force - on a club-worst 12-game losing streak against New Zealand opposition - face a Blues team on the rise at Eden Park.