Competition is king at the Waratahs with playmaker Tane Edmed revealing the opportunity to challenge himself against teammates Ben Donaldson and Will Harrison was central to the talented fly-half re-signing with NSW through 2024.
One of the breakout stars of the Waratahs' resurgence this season, which extends to a quarterfinal match-up with the Chiefs in Hamilton, Edmed on Tuesday announced he would be remaining in Sydney for another two years in a timely boost for the franchise.
Earlier it this year it looked as though Edmed might be squeezed out given the presence of both Harrison and Donaldson, but such has been the Eastwood pivot's form since Donaldson was injured, the Waratahs made him a key priority.
Still, Edmed admitted he had wondered whether he might have to chase his professional rugby dreams at another Australian franchise.
"Of course, I think is a natural thought to have," Edmed said. "But for me I always felt that, even last year, I probably wasn't quite ready, and I never really thought of it as a negative, I was always just trying to get better at training each week.
"And having [Harrison] and Donno [Donaldson] here, it made the development speed up a bit quicker because we're competing with each other every week. But it was always a thought at the start of the year and it was a little bit of a worry because obviously I want to stay in my home state and I wanted to stay here.
"But I tried not to think about it too much and just tried to focus on the short term, and it's being a bit clichéd, but just trying to get better every week. And then when I got my opportunity I just made sure I really wanted to take it and put in a good performance.
"But in saying that I realise that is life sometimes and that's footy, but things have turned out really well and I'm super stoked."
Edmed had drawn interest from the Western Force, where he would have linked up with highly-rated coach Simon Cron next year, and instead battled only rising playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa for the No. 10 jersey.
But such has been the Waratahs' revival under coach Darren Coleman that Edmed said he never seriously considered the advances from other clubs.
"It's a trending thing, you can see that we're really trending upwards and that's no surprise since DC's been in here," Edmed said. "And as such a young squad, I feel like there is so much potential here.
"And for me personally, I feel like we've got that new facility which was a big thing for me and is going to be really awesome, a young squad, really good youthful coaching experience. But something that I really looked into and saw as a real positive was that ability to get better, so that was probably the main factor in my decision-making."
With his immediate future now sorted, Edmed can switch his focus to Saturday's quarterfinal against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Clayton McMillan's side was the first New Zealand team the Waratahs faced this season, at Super Round in Melbourne, and the Tahs were soundly beaten after they were reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes in the first half following the red-carding of Angus Bell and sin-binning of Jamie Roberts.
But NSW then bounced back to defeat both the Crusaders and Highlanders, and also Moana Pasifika, while also blowing golden opportunities to beat both the Hurricanes and Blues.
Those results have the Waratahs high on confidence, although Edmed insists they must improve on multiple areas from their last-gasp loss to the Blues on the weekend.
"Yeah definitely, I think it kind of humanises the Kiwis a little bit," he said of the Waratahs' success against New Zealand opposition. "And we know that we can beat them over there and we've come so close against the Canes and the Blues as well, and we know they're definitely beatable.
"So we're definitely going over there with a lot more confidence, but they're [the Chiefs] very strong so we're going to have to lift our game again this week."