Super Rugby 2013 Preview 13: The Brumbies

brumbiesThe Brumbies have featured in a handful of semi-finals and walked away with the title twice, but all that occurred nearly a decade ago. Last year they entered the Super Rugby competition as a “nameless” unit considered to consist of “rejects”, but they surely shrugged off that notion as they turned out to be the biggest surprise of the year.

The Brumbies suffered no great upsets during the off-season, apart from Michael Hooper’s departure, of course; but with the key arrival of David Pocock, it is easy to overlook that little detail. Jake White has a tendency to make lemonade when dealt lemons and this year will be no different.

Pocock’s abilities at the breakdown are well known and all indications from the warm-up match against the ACT XV suggest that he will have a more expansive role that involves a lot more running and ball carrying.

The 2007 World Cup winning coach is a man with a plan and he has no shortage of tricks up his sleeve. Not only did he manage to convince the retired Clyde Rathbone to pull himself together and get fit for selection again, but with his keen eye for talent also spotted a very handy lock in the Lions camp and lured Etienne Oosthuizen down under with the prospects of a chance to don a Wallaby jersey come the 2015 World Cup.

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Rathbone’s return, openly fuelled by White, and after sterling performances in both warm-up matches, dotting down 3 times, Rattlebone’s got the nod for a start in Round 1 against the Reds, which will coincidentally also earn him his 50th Brumbie cap.

My mouth literally starts watering when I look at the Brumbies squad, and for a South African it is very unsettling to have such fond feeling towards any Australian team. Not even my personal dislike of the pilfering Pocock has put a dampener on my excitement about the team and that must have something to do with the fact that Jake is my all-time favourite coach. (For the record, it still baffles me that politics in South African rugby actually led to him being shown the door after winning a World Cup. Idiots!)

You won’t see a host of Wallabies when the Brumbies run on the field, but boy oh boy are there some talented young men in Canberra! Most of the names in the line-up probably won’t invoke fear in their opponents, but I’ll tell you one thing, when these guys sync, it’s like witnessing a meteor showing when the moon is full. All they need to do is protect their own ball and pounce on anything loose. With a guy like Pocock lurking around the fringes and all the speed, strength and elusiveness they boast along the backline, any turnover situation will be spell trouble for defenders.

Laeliifano, for my money, is the perfect flyhalf with his all-round abilities. There’s not a thing the boy can’t do well; he breaks thought tackles, yet rarely slips the ones he makes; he draws defenders, offloads perfectly and can regularly place the ball between the posts. He’s dangerous every time he touches the ball.

They have real pace out wide in Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight and Joe Tomane. The trio has a track record for slicing through the defense with strong running; however, Mogg and Speight look a bit sketchy when on the delivering side of tackles. And don’t forget comeback kid Clyde!

The midfielders are well able to make and break tackles, and this is where I’d field Tomane in combination with Andrew Smith instead of Pat McCabe.

At the front things aren’t nearly as electrifying as at the back, but they do boast a full Wallaby front row, the very versatile Big Ben Mowen – their nearly faultless captain – and the aforementioned Pocock.

According to the skipper, that stinging 36-14 mishap against the Blues in the final costly round is still fresh in the memory. The players are now using it as a barometer to ensure standards are kept up at all the times in order to prevent having any such slip-ups this year.

I feel rather confident in saying that I expect them to top the Australian conference and thereby claim the 3rd spot on the overall log. Beware they don’t go all the way this time around as they are becoming an increasingly threatening side under the tutelage of the motivational Jake White.

by Jackie Smit

7 thoughts on “Super Rugby 2013 Preview 13: The Brumbies

  1. Apologies RD,but working my way down the blog. However, as per previous comments, its pretty insulting to be posting all this SH rugby bull pooh in the middle of the 6 nations. I respect and like the SH rugby, but sure;y you must see that no comments means most are Northern Hemisphere, not interested and more polite than me to say PLEASE STOP RUGBY DUMP IT’S JUST PLAIN INSULTING TO THE 6 NATIONS TO DISCUSS THIS NOW.

    1. Baz, you’re a tool. I’m reading something called “The Rugby Blog” not “The Six Nations Blog”. How can previews of one of the major highlights of the rugby season possibly be “INSULTING” to the 6 Nations.

      TRB has the following link down at the bottom of the home page, so if you are only interested in the international rugby bookmark this link:

      Jackie, thank you for these previews.

  2. I like Jake White, too! can you imagine dropping a coach after he wins you the World Cup? Imagine what will happen if he starts coaching Australia…

    I wasn’t really impressed with the Brumbies first game, but they used their opportunities and Moggy stepped up to win them the game.

    Any news on Speight?

  3. Hi Jasper, Speight suffered a blow to the ribs and left the stadium in an ambulance, fearing his ribs had been broken. Good news is that CT scan on Sunday cleared him of any breaks and he went for an ultrasound on Monday, but those results have not been released. Although it’s been reported that he felt much better, there is not yet any guarantee that he will play this weekend. Maybe the Magician is keeping that card up his sleeve a bit longer.

  4. Result:
    Rebels (30) – Tries: Ged Robinson, Hugh Pyle, Richard Kingi. Conversions: James O’Connor (3/3). Penalties: O’Connor (3/3). Yellow Card: Scott Higginbotham

    Force (23) – Tries: Alfie Mafi (2), Richard Brown. Conversion: Kyle Godwin (1/3). Penalties: Godwin (2/3). Yellow Cards: Alby Mathewson, Chris Alcock.

    Brumbies (24) – Tries: Jesse Mogg (2). Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (0/1), Ian Prior (1/1). Penalties: Lealiifano (0/2), Nic White (2/3), Mogg (2/3).

    Reds (6) – Penalties: Mike Harris (2/5).

    Super Rugby Team of the Week – Round 1

    15. James O’Connor – Although it was difficult to look past Jesse Mogg’s try-double, the Rebels fullback looked the better all-round player and with a 100% kicking record, who wouldn’t want him in your team.

    14. Richard Kingi – Playing on the wing for the Rebels, the versatile busy body was all over the park and although he misses more hits than he makes, he is a strong runner and flamboyant finisher.

    13. Mitch Inman – Nothing much happened in the 13 jersey and the only thing that lifted the Rebels centre’s mediocre performance above that of the rest, was his ability to pilfer the ball a couple of times.

    12. Kyle Godwin – Much to the disappointment of many fantasy managers, Christian Lealiifano’s had a very bad day with the boot and although Godwin only had a 50% success rate and Lealiifano being the better defender, the Rebels midfielder kept to opposition quite busy.

    11. Alfie Mafi – Undoubtedly the shiniest star of Round 1. Not only did he clock the most running meters, besides O’Connor, but he broke through several tackles, and dotted down twice – even though his efforts were in vein and not enough to change the fate of the Force.

    10. Quade Cooper – Another area of mediocrity which forced me to choose the Reds flyhalf even though he had a scarcely above average game compared to his own high standards. He is not big on tackling though and my midfield now looks rather vulnerable. They’ll be dangerous on attack though and should just keep possession of the ball.

    9. Nic White – Will Genia is by far the best Australia has to offer in the halfback department and as he did not play, I had to go with the only other option on display. His useful boot saved Lealiifano from further embarrassment, helped the Brumbies secure their first win and therefore edged him ahead.

    8. Gareth Delve – The Rebels skipper was as rock solid as always. He carried the ball well, put the tackles in and led by example. Mention must go to Richard Brown for the immediate impact he made; in the 20 minutes he spent on the field he threatened the defense on a couple of occasions and scored a try.

    7. Liam Gill – Although David Pocock surely made his presence felt during his Brumby debut, the ever improving Reds flanker was as much of a nuisance, but carried the ball better and with more force.

    6. Angus Cottrell – This hardworking backrower has a habit of making the most of every opportunity he gets and yet again showed how he thrives on contact situations.

    5. Luke Jones – This young Rebel followed his breakout season up with a strong start to the 2013 season. His versatility makes him hard to replace and he didn’t put a foot wrong in the season’s first match.

    4. Hugh Pyle – His exceptional understanding of the line-out and formidable presence makes this blossoming second rower an asset for any team. He rarely misses a tackle and his strong ball carrying skills managed to get him across the chalk line once again.

    3. James Slipper – The Reds’ tighthead prop just managed to edge out Tatera Faulkner as he is a more concrete option on defense.

    2. Ged Robinson – It isn’t every day that you see Stephen Moore take the backseat, but even without taking into account his 5-pointer, the Rebels hooker made his presence felt right across the park.

    1. Greg Holmes – There was really nothing in this decision as none of the loosehead props did anything to write home about. Forced to choose between Greg and Pek Cowan, I opted to flip a coin.

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