DEFENDING Super W rugby champions NSW, captained by Vincentia's Ash Hewson, say respect is the key to staving off complacency, as they prepare to be targeted after an undefeated 2018 campaign.
The 2019 season starts in just under two weeks, with the Waratahs playing the Brumbies in Canberra in the opening round of the five-team competition.
While NSW didn't drop a game in the inaugural season, they needed extra time to overcome Queensland in a memorable final in Sydney.
Veteran back Hewson made it clear her side had frequently addressed the danger of possible complacency after a undefeated campaign.
"I think there's always pressure and we're relishing that," Hewson said at the NSW Rugby season launch in Sydney on Tuesday evening.
"We're very aware that we have that target on our back: being the defending champions and going through undefeated.
'We're really trying to instil with the girls, I know a lot of the older girls, not to be complacent and treat every team with the respect like we always have, so I think we'll be fine.
"Before training every session we have a bit of a chat as a team and I always make sure that is instilled in our girls, that we need to respect every team and respect each other."'
Hewson had no doubt the standard would lift for the second season of Super W, in which the only change to the format is an extra finals match, with a playoff between the second and third-placed sides for a grand final spot.
"I think it (the standard) will definitely increase, every year it will," Hewson said.
"Seeing the younger girls come through as well, they are bringing a new skill set, they have been playing the game since quite a young age.
"So it's definitely going to get better, the more games we're going to play."
Hewson hasn't been allowed to forget last year's final in which she pulled off a match-saving tackle to prevent a winning try to Queensland.
"I haven't really had a choice, that tackle seems to be everywhere," Hewson quipped.