Finals hopes insignificant in Test trio decision: McKellar

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

After turning a corner in Pretoria, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar did not want to disrupt the flow of his team by resting three of his biggest stars.

The Brumbies held firm on their decision to decline Rugby Australia's request to rest David Pocock, Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa on Friday, naming all three Wallabies in the starting XV that will face the Sunwolves.

And while McKellar said the coaching staff will "provide some assistance" where possible, the priority in ACT remains, understandably, on the Brumbies.

"It's one of those little distractions that you probably don't need within a week but it comes with the territory and you just have to adapt and deal with it," McKellar said.

"We'll try and do - where possible - we'll try and provide some assistance for next week.

"But the priority at this point is time is that the boys are playing and we just want it in their mindset that the expectation is to go out there, play well and represent the Brumbies."David Pocock will line up against the Sunwolves. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyACT remain a very slim hope of playing finals football but that did not cross McKellar's mind when he made the call on the Test trio.

"Where we sit on the ladder or whatever is insignificant in the decision," he said.

"We feel we turned a corner overseas, that we're developing and heading in the right direction and that's what my decision was based on - not upsetting or changing that direction."

McKellar first heard of the request when the team were in Pretoria preparing to face the Bulls but did not contact Wallabies coach Michael Cheika until his return to Canberra.

"Once I returned to Australia I got in contact with Michael, we had a discussion and we both understand each other's positions and in this instance we can't come to an agreement," McKellar said.Michael Cheika requested rest for the trio. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We have a good relationship with Michael, certainly Stephen Larkham, Nathan Grey and Mick Byrne, Raelene's the CEO and she'll be down here in a couple of weeks.

"This isn't about diminishing those relationships by any means.

"We just felt the timing and the scheduling of it was a little bit off and at this point in time we need to do what's best for the Brumbies."

The conversation throughout the past 48 hours makes for a less than ideal preparation and McKellar said the situation must be avoided moving forward.

"It's not great - it's far from ideal," he said.

"And I think that's the learning out of this - the players have been pulled from both sides and we need to make sure moving forward that this doesn't happen again.

The Brumbies take on the Sunwolves at GIO Stadium on Sunday, kicking off at 4:05pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio.

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