Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says that he does not believe that current Super Rugby champions the Reds will suffer from second-year syndrome in 2012.
Deans goes further to say that he is confident that two Australian Super Rugby teams will make the semi-finals in 2012.
The Reds rose from strugglers at the bottom of the Super rugby table to champions and will start the 2012 Super Rugby season as one of the hunted teams.
Deans coached the Crusaders before taking on the Wallabies job and won five Super rugby titles and says the Reds are primed for a strong title defence.
"The Reds will have a target on their back this year, there's no doubt about that, but I'm also very confident they'll be up for that," Deans told Sportal.
"I was up there yesterday and they haven't stood still, they're continuing to raise the bar in terms of the way they prepare and how they're supporting their playing group, which is a good indicator."
"So they'll obviously aspire to retaining that title, they've had a taste of it, they clearly enjoyed it, their public enjoyed it, you've only got to look at their membership numbers and I wouldn't underestimate the impact of that."
"I fully expect they'll be there at the end and it'd be great to have two Australian sides there at the business end, and by the business end I mean the semis, and I think we're capable of that."
Deans has also backed the Reds to manage fine without five-eighth Quade Cooper who is expected to miss the first two months of Super Rugby after he injured his knee in the Rugby World Cup.
"I don't think they'll change their game hugely, obviously Quade's got a unique skill set but it's a team game," Deans said about Cooper's absence and the impact it will have on the Reds.
"Sure, he brings some elements that people remember and he's been a big part of driving the spectacle at Suncorp (Stadium), but there's many other components to their team and to their game as well."
"He's part of a vehicle that gives him that luxury if you like, and they've got a playing group there that's more than able to cover his absence."
After visiting all five of the Australian franchises Deans is feeling positive about all of their prospects this season.
"I think they'll all give the semis a nudge, you've only got to look at last year in terms of recent history," he said.
"The Force probably should have beaten the Reds twice ... the Brumbies did beat the Reds quite convincingly at Suncorp, so those are the margins you're dealing with and I've got no doubt that this year's competition will be similar."
"What I've witnessed out in the franchises in terms of the way they're taking to their work, personally I think it's unprecedented the ethic that we're seeing, and that's a great sign."
Outside of the Australian conference Deans predicted that the Sharks and Stormers would be the top contenders in South Africa and the Blues and Crusaders the top contenders in New Zealand.