Those will be will be the driving forces behind the Waratahs in their last three games, according to Kurtley Beale, despite the fact NSW will need a miracle to make the finals.
The Waratahs crashing to an eighth loss for the season on Saturday night against the Jaguares left them sitting in 12th on the ladder, eight points behind the Brumbies and seven behind the Rebels, and four points outside the top eight.
Earlier in the season that wouldn’t be too bad but with only three games left against the Rebels, Brumbies and Highlanders, there are 11 teams above them with better vantage spots and many are mathematically guaranteed to climb up further given they play each other.
So the Waratahs need to win all their games and also hope for a winning lottery ticket of favourable outcomes in other fixtures.
The pathway is still there but it’s ultra-slim, and to add to the degree of difficulty, the Waratahs will also have to do without Sekope Kepu and Rob Simmons for one game, and Karmichael Hunt is out for between four and eight weeks with a grade three MCL tear.
Hunt’s chances of a Wallabies call-up in the Rugby Championship squad, named in the first week of July, will now also be affected.
Beale acknowledged the Jaguares loss - “that one really hurt” - but he believes the Waratahs have to keep optimistically focussed on the fact they have a chance at making the playoffs, even if it is of the Lloyd Christmas variety.
"It’s really important for us to not be down,” Beale said.
"We’re hurt about this one but be very hopeful about the next few weeks. They are all Grand Final matches and you have to be hopeful at this stage of the season.
"To try and be hopeful in these moments is tough but I but I think that is the best way to go forward and make sure we finished the season well.
“Our season is not at the end. We play another three games, if get those … we have got to be hopeful.”
The Waratahs head to Melbourne on Friday night and the other factor that will be in play against their southern rivals are the head-to-head match-ups that could prove telling when Michael Cheika, Scott Johnson and Michael O’Connor sit down to pick a Wallabies squad.
Up against incumbent Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty, Beale is just of a number of players whose performance in contrast could elevate their chances, or reduce them.
Bernard Foley can go head-to-head with Quade Cooper and Matt To’omua, Adam Ashley-Cooper will likely meet Reece Hodge, Rob Simmons and Ned Hanigan can meet Adam Coleman and Matt Philip, and Tom Robertson and Kepu can face Faulker and Ainsley.
Jack Dempsey may even duel with Luke Jones and Isi Naisarani.
"We understand the derby games. It’s always personal and always physical and tough, so a lot of our guys, it’s a short turnaround for us on Friday night, so it’s important we recover well and put our best foot forward,” Beale said.
"With the games this year there are definitely one-on-one battles happening throughout the year, which has been awesome. You can see guys really stepping up in certain positions.
"But as a player you are playing against a mate in the opposition, it’s always a tough encounter and an enjoyable one when you get one over them. No doubt they will be looking to fire at us after we got them in Sydney.
"We have a big, big challenge ahead of us."
Beale said he’d be stay at fullback if Lalakai Foketi was rewarded for a strong game after replacing Hunt at no.12.
The Rebels, who are sitting fifth on the ladder after a bonus point win over the Sunwolves, say they will know on Wednesday whether Will Genia will be available to play after suffering a concussion.
They may elect to use caution, with two excellent back-ups in the shape of Michael Ruru and Harrison Goddard.