Brumbies face Ballymore litmus test

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies are heading into Friday night's trail against the Reds with one of the strongest teams Stephen Larkham can remember.

With a handful of Wallabies returning to their side for the Ballymore match, Larkham said his focus was on getting some crucial game time into their big-name players.

“It’s certainly one of the strongest teams that I’ve been involved with in terms of trial teams,” he said.

“Some guys out of the Wagga trial can feel a little bit unlucky that they’re not getting a second opportunity here (but) the thought process behind this one is just to give the Wallabies and (Henry) Speight an opportunity to come back in and see where they’re at.”

It will be the last chance for Larkham to look at some combinations, including Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua reuniting at 10 and 12.

Larkham said a niggling injury prevented the co-captain from taking up a spot in the Brumbies side in Wagga last weekend.

Speight’s workload will be monitored closely, with the winger only returning to training on Wednesday off the back off a stint with the Aussie 7s team.

Aidan Toua in action for the Queensland Reds. Photo: Getty Images

Larkham said it was important to get the 27-year-old back into match play before the season, despite his short turnaround.

“He had one run with the boys and had to pick up all the new moves and new patterns we've been running in one day,” he said.

“They had an intense tournament on the weekend.

“The players pushed their bodies to the limit.

“He’s a little bit fatigued but…I think it’s important to get him out there and see how that combinations going to go.”

Speight said while he was still feeling the impact of the Sydney 7s competition physically it was the mental drain that was the biggest change from the 15-man game.

“That’s the huge change I really find with Sevens is the mental side of things,” he said.

“Trying to wind down and then having two hours turnaround and (getting) up for the next game (is hard).

“Whereas in 15s you just build into towards the day and focus for 80 minutes and that’s it.”

Speight was confident he would be able to transition back into the Brumbies side.

“The body’s in good nick and I should be good for tomorrow night,” he said.

“It’s important to get that feeling back and focus for a good 40 or 80 minutes.

“I’ve been away for four weeks and been in the Sevens program so it’s just about trying to come back and adapt as quickly as I can.”

Larkham said most of the starting side would play up to 60 minutes of the game against the Reds.