Larkham firmly focused on bigger picture

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Stephen Larkham always has one eye on the bigger picture and that's no different this week, as the Brumbies prepare for a run at the Super Rugby finals.

Larkham rolled out the cotton wool at the selection table this week, resting his stars for Saturday's clash with the Chiefs in preparation for their home quarter final in eight days time.

While he insists a win this week is still high on the priority list, he didn't beat around the bush when asked about the eight changes to the starting XV that fell short against the Reds.

"We are heavily focused on putting a good performance on next weekend at home, on Friday night," he said.Tevita Kuridrani is one of eight regulars out of the starting XV. Photo: Getty Images"We are lucky in that we have been able to prep for the finals without having to win these two games but in saying that, we are taking this team over there with the view of putting our best performance on the paddock.

"We have thought about it long hard but we have made the decision to rest some players, players that have pretty much played all year for us and most of the Test series for us.

"We are giving those guys a break with a six day turnaround into the Friday night game in Canberra - we want to put everything into that game."

Eyebrows were raised when Larkham rotated Scott Fardy out of the 23 in round three, though he isn't one to pander to external expectation.

"The external views - where are they getting their views from?" he asked.Allan Alaalatoa has been rested with an eye to next Friday's quarter final. Photo: Getty Images"We've got all the data, we know where the guys are at physically and mentally as well.

"We came up with this plan a couple of weeks ago - obviously (injuries on) the weekend put a bit of a spanner in the works in that there weren't going to be this many new guys starting.

"But they now get their opportunity and if you understand where we are coming from in terms of the numbers, I'm sure you will see the bigger picture."

Larkham also gave a big wrap to potential debutant Ryan Lonergan, who missed the World Rugby U20s Championship through injury.

"He was certainly the standout halfback in the (Super U20s) competition and deserved to be in that team," he said.Larkham is comfortable the rotation policy will hold the Brumbies in good stead come finals time. Photo: Getty Images"When you look at his performances at club rugby here in Canberra, he has been tremendous at the junior levels.

"We had him first in the program a couple of years ago in the preseason block and he really stood out as a player that understands the game, has a great skill set and is mentally tough.

"We have seen that ever since."

Christian Lealiifano hasn't overcome a hamstring strain, delaying his inspirational comeback from leukaemia. 

The Brumbies face the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:15pm, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.