No Wallabies will be rested for Brumbies home games, vows McKellar

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

The Brumbies have agreed to manage Wallabies' workloads ahead of the World Cup but coach Dan McKellar says he will not rest any star players for home games.

McKellar revealed his stance ahead of the Brumbies’ first home game on Friday night against the Rebels, where he picked all his Spring Tour Wallabies: David Pocock, Allan Alaalatoa, Scott Sio, Folau Faingaa, Rory Arnold, Pete Samu and Tom Banks.

The first three didn’t play in any trials but McKellar traded on the  luxury of having two Wallabies loosehead props in his squad now by picking James Slipper to start at no.1, and easing Sio into action via the bench.

New recruit Samu was also named on the bench, with backrowers Locky McCaffrey and Rob Valetini named in the starting side alongside Pocock.

The Brumbies have plenty to think about. Photo: Getty ImagesWorkload management will be a constant factor for Super Rugby coaches to consider in 2019, with all Aussie coaches having signed on to rest Wallabies players at unspecified times during the season.

McKellar revealed they’d agreed on a set number of games players would sit out but declined to elaborate on how many. 

To maintain flexibility, plans have been deliberately kept vague and McKellar said he’d given a schedule written in pencil to the Wallabies brass that would be responsive to in-season demands.

McKellar is determined to do his resting when on the road, however, and admitted he would not dud fans by leaving out Wallabies players when the Brumbies are playing at home.

"One thing I am really passionate about is when we do play at home is that we give our members and our stakeholders the best version of the Brumbies,” McKellar said. 

"They’re the things I have to take into account.”

Meagre crowds have been an ongoing problem for several seasons in Canberra, and accordingly, McKellar rejected a last-minute request from Michael Cheika to rest Pocock, Sio and Alaalatoa for a Brumbies home game against the Sunwolves prior to the June series.

McKellar has appeared to put his money where his mouth is in round one, with Pocock picked to start despite coming off a calf injury and Alaalatoa having not played in any trials either.

His decision to name Sio on the bench, too, was based on the fact he’d had no football this year.

“We will just build Scotty’s minutes up over the next couple of weeks, and Slips starts this week,” he said.

"First game of the year, it’s high intensity and high speed and to go in without any trial footy into the game would be a little bit of a risk.”

The Brumbies were privately pumped they were able to sign Slipper from the Reds, ahead of the Rebels and a Waratahs side so shallow in front row depth that they would kill for him now.

"Now we have two international standard losses head props,” McKellar said.

"Scrum is a big area of our game, and certainly an area we think we can dominate.

"Slips has worked really hard and he has a whole lot of experience. He doesn’t talk a whole lot but when he does, guys certainly listen. When he is fit and robust, his ball carry, his workrate, his physicality on both sides of the ball just really complement his set-piece work.

"We are really pleased with how he has fit into the club and the contribution he will make."

The Brumbies’ round one side appears to be the stronger but McKellar believes the Rebels’ depth is impessive.

"Regardless of who plays, they have a star-studded roster don’t they?” he said.

"They’re a couple of internationals deep in most positions really. They’re a very good side, I expect Genia to play and I expect Cooper to play. They have a big forward pack, physical and speed out wide.”

The Brumbies take on the Rebels on Friday February 15, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.