2018 Super Rugby season preview: Brumbies

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Brumbies will usher in somewhat of a new era in 2018, under new coach Dan McKellar.

Sam Carter and Christian Lealiifano will be co-captains of the side in 2018 as they look to take the next step, after making the finals in the past five seasons.

Movement

IN: Richard Arnold, Mees Erasmus, Folau Fainga’a, Lachlan McCaffrey, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Christian Lealiifano, Matt Lucas, Chance Peni

OUT: Saia Faingaa, Tom Staniforth, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Tomas Cubelli, Nick Jooste, Anthony Faingaa, Nigel Ah Wong, Aidan Toua

Player they’ll miss most: Scott Fardy

Scott Fardy will lead the Brumbies in Hamilton. Photo: Getty ImagesFardy had one of his best Super Rugby seasons in 2017, but his fate had already been sealed, after signing a deal with Leinster in Ireland. The Brumbies don't really have a ready-made replacement for the 33-year-old, both on-field and with the experience he brought. Though they have a deep backrow department, his absence will be keenly noted. Halfback Tomas Cubelli will also be missed in Canberra, with Joe Powell being asked to step up in the Argentinian's footsteps.

Boom recruit:  Isi Naisarani

David Pocock will be a more than handy addition for the Brumbies on his return from a sabbatical, but as far as fresh recruits go, Isi Naisarani is the top of the list. The bullocking no. 8, who becomes eligible for Wallabies duty in 2019, was the Force's best player in 2017 in his debut Super Rugby season. He is tough in tight but also has a damaging ability to carry the ball. Can be a game changer.

MVP: Christian Lealiifano


Lealiifano has been through plenty since he last strung a full Super Rugby season together, so it's easy to forget exactly how good he was in 2016. The co-captain was the Brumbies' best player that year, steering them superbly. The playmaker's form that year earned him a Wallabies call-up for the 2016 England series and a repeat could certainly put him in the mix. The rugby world moves pretty quickly and the focus will be squarely on-field with Lealiifano this year, which is exactly where he wants it.

Rising star: Tom Banks

Banks took his opportunity with two hands at the Brumbies last year, playing at fullback, and earned himself an invitation to a week of Wallabies training. He has certainly caught the eyes of those at the national level and new full-time Wallabies attack coach Stephen Larkham will surely be keeping a close eye on him. 

Most to prove: Kyle Godwin 

Kyle Godwin will miss the rest of the Super Rugby season. Photo: Getty ImagesKyle Godwin has shown he has the talent to be in the mix for a Wallabies spot, but injuries and inconsistency have plagued him through his career. The 25-year-old is in the final year of his Brumbies contract, and would be desperate to show he can find his way back to the form that made him such a highly-rated recruit.

What the coach says: "I think a lot of people think ex-forwards coach, loosehead prop, all we're going to do is scrum, lineout and maul. I'd like to think we'll have a bit more to our game than that. How we attack and some subtle changes there, I think you'll see that early on." - Dan McKellar

Aussie Conference prediction: 1st

The Brumbies have made the Super Rugby finals the past five seasons, but haven't been able to climb the Super Rugby summit. Under a new coaching regime, they'll be looking to take that step up. Pretty much the most stable of the four franchises, simply have to prove they can put on points as well as they can stop them.