Larkham wants balanced Brumbies

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham wants to see a balance from his team against the Hurricanes on Friday night.

Larkham has spoken over summer about the need for his side to show more versatility in attack but said they wouldn’t be jumping to extremes against the Hurricanes.

“It’s always about balance so for us,” he said.

“We spoke a little about this last year, trying to run a little bit more out of our C and D zone or our end of field, I think you've got to find balance in everything to do.

“If you try to run too many times out of there you're running a risk that you probably don’t need to take.

“So we’ll find a balance tomorrow.”

Balance was also the deciding factor in choosing co-captain Christian Lealiifano to start at flyhalf for the opening match, combining with Matt Toomua at inside centre, Larkham said.

Larkham opted for that duo in the back end of 2015, as the side found success with the combination to end their regular season.

In a somewhat more surprising move, Larkham has given Allan Alaalatoa the starting loosehead spot over Wallabies prop Scott Sio, a big tick for the Brumbies prop.

“There’s tight competition across the front row but particularly at loose head,” he said.

“Allan’s holding out the Wallabies incumbent so he’s definitely got the potential to play for the Wallabies in future.”

Larkham said he saw much of what he had wanted from the Brumbies’ second trial, against the Reds, with their top-line stars not missing a beat in their return to form.

With a relatively stable squad the Brumbies took little time gelling in that final match ahead of the regular season, with a performance that Larkham described as one of the best he has seen the group display.

“There’s good experience in the group at the moment we saw that in the reds trial,” he said.

“They just came in for that reds game and a comprehensive performance one of the better performances I’ve seen this team have.

“I think that proves the more experience you have, the more experience at this top level you have it’s easier to come in and hit the ground running.”

The Brumbies’ continuity will be vital heading into the Super Rugby season with an opening match against the Hurricanes, who ended the Brumbies finals run last season.

With a handful of tight losses last year, Larkham said their focus was on making the most of the opportunity to start the season with a win at their home ground.

“We lost four games by less than four points (last year) and that hurt us at the end,” he said.

“Every game is important, and you want to get off to a good start."