Brumbies put the blinkers on

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Brumbies must resist the temptation to look even two days ahead when they face the Sunwolves, coach Stephen Larkham says.

Ten of the ACT squad was named in Michael Cheika’s 39-man Wallabies squad on Thursday, going into camp on Sunday, but Larkham said they would need to put Tests to the back of their minds.

“The hard thing I guess for the Wallabies selection is these guys needed to know in terms of travel arrangements because the Wallabies come into camp on Sunday so it had to be announced through this week,” he said.

“That’s going to be an issue for these guys to make sure that their head is in the  game here.

“We started out the season like every team in this competition wanted to get to the finals, nothing’s changed there.

“We have an opportunity with four games to go. If we win these, more than likely we’ll be in the finals.

“We’ve had a good focus throughout the season and it’s the last little focus for these boys.”

Allan Alaalatoa is one of the Brumbies in the Wallabies squad. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe greatest challenge may be on the shoulders of replacement scrumhalf Joe Powell, the most left-field of bolters in Thursday’s squad.

Larkham said he had made it clear Powell simply had to keep doing the things that earned him a berth in the squad.

“Hopefully nothing (changes),” he said.

“What he’s shown (coming off the bench) is real control and an added lift in energy to the group but really control.

“We’ll be looking for the same again this weekend. I’ve already spoken to him about not worrying about the camp and the Wallabies and just doing what he’s been doing here.”

One of the greatest assets the Brumbies have in the way of focus is co-captain Stephen Moore, well aware of the stakes and the dangers of their Sunwolves clash.

“I think so,” he said.

“There’s something to look forward to in June, it’s a great opportunity and it’s exciting.

“That said, we need to firmly focus on the game tomorrow. It is difficult with camp on Sunday so we’re right in the middle of all that and that’s one of the challenges. Comes back to the guys that have been there and done it before to make sure of that.”

Whether they are successful in putting the blinkers on will show at around 9:30 on Saturday, when the Brumbies are sitting on top of the Australian conference or faced with an uphill scramble for a finals spot.

“You say  that after  the game, I’d like to think no,” he said.

“It is what it is. At this time of year it all gels into one, particularly having a break from Super Rugby.

“It’s one of the things that happens and you've got to deal with it.”