NSW coach Michael Cheika praised Wycliff Palu as the spiritual leader of the Waratahs, after the veteran No.8 wound back the clock in last night's 43-21 Super Rugby win over the Western Force.
The Waratahs scored six tries in their second-best attacking start to a Super Rugby season, but Cheika was paying tribute to the platform set by his big men up front.
Youngster Will Skelton was impressive at lock and experienced front rowers Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau set the agenda in the scrum.
But it was Palu who proved the difference in the forward battle in Sydney.
The 31-year-old has been slowed down in recent years by a relentless run of injuries, most recently a knee problem which ruled him out of the second half of last year.
But Palu showed there's plenty of fight left in the old dog in a bruising display which featured a first-half surge through the front-line and pass-off for Israel Folau to score his second.