The Melbourne Rebels will need to come out firing on Friday night after dropping to third in the Australian conference during their bye week.
The Rebels went into the bye sitting on top of the Australian conference, but following victories to the Brumbies and Waratahs, they'll need to play catch-up in the back end of season.
The tight ladder sets up a mouth-watering clash on Friday night between the Rebels and Brumbies, one that could make or break their season.
Fully aware of the importance of the Australian derby captain Nic Stirzaker knows the Brumbies forwards will need to be nullified.
“Their forward pack, their set piece,” Stirzaker said of the Brumbies strengths.
“Stephen Moore, they’ve got the Wallaby captain there, David Pocock, Scott Fardy are really strong at the breakdown and they’re really good (at) mauling.
“Their set piece is probably their main strength and you need to counter if you want to beat them.” he said.
The last two meetings between the sides resulting in a win apiece, with a combined total of just five points separating the teams.
“We had really good encounters with them last year, here and in Canberra so we’ll be doing our homework this week and we’ll need to match their physicality at the breakdown and in defence,” Stirzaker said.
With just three weeks remaining until the Wallabies squad is named for the June Test series against England, Stirzaker isn’t thinking about a potential call up with Super Rugby solely on his mind.
“Not too much at this point yet,” Stirzaker said.
“We’re pretty focused on what we’re trying to do here, obviously we let a golden opportunity slip last game and we want to make amends this Friday night at home.”
Stirzaker did mention the influence of a couple of incumbent Wallabies are having on the squad.
“There’s definitely guys that have been pushing (for Wallabies selection), Sean McMahon just keeps getting better and better every week and Toby Smith is doing a great job at the front,” he said.
The Rebels play the Brumbies at AAMI Park on Friday at 7:45pm AEST.