Brumbies' mourning turns to motivation

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

There were elements of the seven stages of season grief at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

First there came the disappointment, then came slivers of pride and soon will come a steely resolve for the Brumbies to learn from a missed opportunity.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham brought the anger in the post-match and glimpses of denial depending on which side you stand, but was effusive in praise of his side.

The coming days will be about farewells for many Brumbies, with Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua and Joe Tomane leaving Canberra for at least the 2017 season.

Matt Toomua has played his last game for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty ImagesDavid Pocock is also set for a 12-month sabbatical, though he will be back to boost the Brumbies’ cause for 2018.

Larkham also revealed on Friday night that backrower Michael Wells and scrumhalf Michael Dowsett would be moving on from the club for next season.

It was that lost chance coach Larkham most rued, a sour conclusion two weeks short of a Super Rugby title that compounded the pain of a controversial loss.

“It's not a success, clearly,” he said, when asked to sum up the season.

“It's really disappointing because we've got guys like Squeak [Moore] and Pup [Toomua], Joe Tomane, Poey taking a sabbatical, Michael Wells, Michael Dowsett all moving on. Ita's retiring, like it's a great group of guys.

“To go out of the competition with guys like this missing out on the opportunity to win a Super Rugby title it's really disappointing.”

While much dissection was still a bit raw, co-captain Christian Lealiifano was looking for some silver linings after a match in which few counted the Brumbies as a chance.

“Nobody backed us to win that one tonight and we came super, super close,” he said.

“It's just frustrating as well that we didn't t get the result that we wanted but we just enjoyed the year.

“It's been tough and we speak about how hard these competitions are to win and we've just got to look back on the season now and learn and move forward.

The Brumbies fought hard in Canberra. Photo: Getty ImagesThe season ended an emotional year for the Brumbies, who have been through plenty on and off the field with mixed Super Rugby results  and boardroom dramas, but Lealiifano said he was confident the side would use these lessons to ignite a continued progress from 2017 and beyond.

“You'd hope that the club really strengthens from here and we've sort of spoken about making finals each year and I guess we don’t want anything less now,” he said.

“It's about continuing to build in this fantastic club and organisation.

“We've got a great leader at the top there with Bernie really running it and the future's bright.

“We'll definitely learn from the year, last couple of years and it'll definitely drive us in years to come.”