The magic number for Brumbies' defence

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies defence coach Peter Ryan has a magic number in mind when it comes to the ACT franchise in 2018.

The Brumbies have spoken about being more expansive next season, as they welcome 11 new faces to their squad, but Ryan said their defence had to return to the heights they saw in 2015.

That season the Brumbies finished with the best defensive record in Super Rugby history, a height they haven’t been able to replicate in the two years since.

Ryan said the key for 2018 was limiting opponents to 20, something they managed 12 times in 2017, but on the flipside they also allowed some major blowouts, particularly against Kiwi opponents.

“I can't remember the exact average but we averaged 2-3 tries against per game (last season) and the succession plan of (that is)  we need to be under 20 points against, regardless of whether it's tries or conversions,” he said.

“If we can do that, the Brumbies have always been able to score more than 20 points, that puts us in a strong position.”

Wallabies development player Folau Faingaa had a double. Photo: WalmsleyWith an influx of new faces in their squad for next season, and a rearrangement in coaching staff with Stephen Larkham’s departure, Ryan said there was a lot of learning to be done ahead of round one.

“We have to dumb it down a little bit but the new guys have taken everything in their stead so far and they're starting to advance from that point,” he said.

“For us moving forward, it just makes it that much easier to do.”

One of those new faces is hooker Folau Faingaa, who was part of the Wallabies fold ahead of their third Bledisloe and Barbarians clash this season, after a standout NRC season with the Vikings.

It was a rough start for Faingaa moving south, travelling back to Sydney most weekends, but after moving in with teammates Rob Valetini and Lolo Fakaosilea, along with Fakaosilea’s partner and daughter, he’s feeling more at home.

“It's pretty `good. I didn't like it  the first couple of weeks, I kept going home, I was a bit homesick” he said.

“I'm not used to staying by myself, I'm used to having big company and just the move with Robbie and Lolo made it better - with the little one around as well.”

Faingaa will have some tight competition on his hands for a hooker spot in Canberra, up against Robbie Abel and Josh Mann-Read, but said he was ready for the battle.

The Brumbies play their first trial on February 3 against the Rebels in Queanbeyan, before opening their Super Rugby season in Japan.

The Brumbies take on the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday February 24, 1:15pm local, 3:15pm AEDT.