Wallabies coach Robbie Deans could be forgiven for wincing in unison with his Waratahs counterpart Michael Cheika, as NSW suffered both insult and injuries in a season-shaping Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders.
The 23-22 defeat in Christchurch on Friday left the eighth-placed Waratahs five points off sixth spot with just two games left and the three teams immediately above them all still to play on the weekend.
Adding to the pain of a missed last-minute penalty attempt from replacement Berrick Barnes were injuries to at least three players due to go into Wallabies camp this weekend for the upcoming three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
Lock Sitaleki Timani has suffered a suspected broken thumb, back-rower Dave Dennis corked a thigh and backline utility Adam Ashley-Cooper copped knocks to the neck, knee and hand, with a stiff neck the main issue.
With six forwards and four backs joining the Wallabies, Cheika said he will have to look outside his main squad to field a 22-man squad for the June 9 clash with the Force in Perth.
"We're going to have to really stick together and show plenty of courage to get a performance over there," Cheika told AAP.
"We'll be firing up and going for it, we won't be holding back."
The Waratahs scored three tries to two against the Crusaders and played some exuberant high tempo multi-phase rugby, which produced excellent first-half tries to wingers Cam Crawford and Peter Betham.
They conceded 13 straight points in the final quarter to slump to their 11th straight loss to the Crusaders, who they last beat nine years ago.
Cheika was proud of his team's performance, but was clearly unhappy with referee Glen Jackson.
He said he hadn't heard back from SANZAR game manager Lyndon Bray after queries he had about the previous week's game against Melbourne and was again unable to contact him after the match in Christchurch.
"I've said all along I don't care about the ladder position, I care about how we play and what type of attitude we bring to the game." Cheika said.
"Because sometimes the ladder position isn't reflective because of situations like tonight, so what can you do?
"Everyone can see the performance and what happened. I think I wouldn't be out of line by saying it.
"I can't tell the truth because I'll get in trouble and I can't via the official channels because I get no response."