There are no easybeats in the much-maligned Australian Super Rugby conference, according to Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, who anticipates some pleasant selection headaches going into the international season.
Only seven points separate the five Australian teams after round seven, with the Brumbies leading the conference on 17 from the Waratahs (16), Force and Reds (both 14) and Rebels (10).
Perennial stragglers the Rebels and Force are both making their presence felt.
The Force have strung together three straight wins – with defending two-time champions the Chiefs among their victims – while the Rebels upset 2013 finalists the Cheetahs and the high-flying Brumbies.
McKenzie said he was pleased with the progress and positive mindset of the five Australian teams in the early weeks of the 15-team competition.
“I think on the whole the Australian conference is doing well,” McKenzie said.
“All of our teams can do well on the night.
“We’ve seen that through the efforts of the Force against the Chiefs, and the Rebels.
“There’s no one there you can take lightly.
“I think the Australian teams are going out there giving a good account of themselves every week.”
McKenzie was also pleased by the amount of talent pushing for international selection.
“Some of the new guys… are poking their noses through and thankfully the old bunch of guys… are putting their hands up,” McKenzie said.
“That will make selection difficult when we get to the middle of May, but that’s a good problem to have.”
McKenzie said he had spent a lot of time looking at France, who the Wallabies host in a three-Test series in June.
“They are on the improve,” McKenzie said.