However, disillusioned supporters will need to wait until next year to see it.
A forgettable campaign ended in the deep south of New Zealand on Friday as a rampant Highlanders dominated the final-round fixture to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.
That sort of final scoreline loomed into view when the visitors trailed 42-7 at halftime, the raw nature of their line-up exposed by the hosts’ physicality and rapid tempo.
Captain for the day Phipps was among the Waratahs’ few experienced Wallabies on show, with five others rested as part of their Rugby Australia requirements.
Coach Daryl Gibson’s fielding of several rookies and fringe candidates in such a gruelling game would bear fruit eventually, Phipps believed.
“Out there tonight there were a lot of players who are going to be taking this team forward,” he said.
“If anything, they’re going to be better players for that. They’ve been blooded out there in one of the toughest cauldrons around.
“They stood up (in the second half) so hopefully they hold onto that through the pre-season and get ready for next year.”
Phipps is leaving next season for London Irish, along with prop Sekope Kepu and winger Curtis Rona.
Gibson has another season to run on his contract and hopes his team can improve their record in close games, something that ultimately cost them dearly.
“We were very competitive during the year. Just losing those critical moments, that’s really telling,” he said.
“Obviously I’m pretty disappointed with where we finished and so forth.
“What we do have is an excellent crop of young New South Wales men coming through.
“You’ll see over the next couple of years those names starting to really feature for us.”
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