They've been written off as easy prey for New Zealand's heavyweights but it's an underdog match-up Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn likes.
The Reds will open Super Rugby Trans-Tasman against the Highlanders in Dunedin, six days after winning a dramatic Super Rugby AU title in Brisbane.
Bookies have rated all five New Zealand sides a better chance of winning the title than the Reds, while the Waratahs are $501 shots to claim the silverware and at long odds to threaten Jordie Barrett's Hurricanes in Sydney on Friday night.
"Styles make fights, they say in boxing, and ours goes well with theirs," Thorn said of the Reds' ability to match it with New Zealand teams.
"Learning how to win has been great but we've always been competitive with the New Zealand styles.
"We know we won't be highly rated in New Zealand; but that's our bread and butter."
The Reds will lean on their forwards depth to give star man Taniela Tupou some respite on a bench loaded with Wallabies talent, while 19-year-old Kalani Thomas will start at halfback against All Blacks great Aaron Smith.
Injuries to Hunter Paisami (cheek), Harry Wilson (concussion), Alex Mafi (concussion) and Jordan Petaia (thigh) have also forced Thorn to shuffle his pack.
He will welcome Suliasi Vunivalu back from injury though, the NRL convert likely to earn second-half minutes off the bench.
"We haven't had many injuries, so there hasn't been many opportunities but there's guys that have been really hungry to push their case," he said.
"They're training the house down and here it is and what a challenge.
"We enjoyed a day or two after that final (to celebrate); that was important.
"But we put that trophy away in the cabinet and now we're keen to rip into this tournament, it's what everyone has been waiting for.
"They've got a taste of the success, they want some more but it starts again now."
The Waratahs were winless from eight games in Super Rugby AU but were buoyed on Thursday by the re-signing of captain Jake Gordon and emerging Wallabies prop Angus Bell.
Playmaker Will Harrison and backrower Carlo Tizzano, who topped the Super Rugby AU tackle count, will come off the bench while Hurricanes' backrower and captain Ardie Savea (knee) remains on the sidelines.