The Brumbies will welcome back a key cog in their backline attack against the Sunwolves on Sunday but skipper Christian Lealiifano says recent criticism won’t force his side to use the rolling maul less.
The Brumbies downed the Blues at home last weekend courtesy of a dominant maul that saw hooker Folau Faingaa cross for a hat-trick of tries.
Questions about whether the Brumbies were too one-dimensional followed, and assistant coach Laurie Fisher took to social media to share his thought - “f*** them - about critics.
Under Dan McKellar, the Brumbies have been open in the last two years discussing their desire in adding more weapons to their arsenal and Lealiifano believes the ACT men definitely have the ability and the skill to score tries in other ways.
But while the maul is working, he said, why wouldn’t you use it?
"Not surprised at all (about the criticism,” Lealiifano said.
"Teams obviously talk about it. But it’s a strength of ours we want to go to and when it’s working for us, we’re happy.
"And when it’s not working for us we have to find other avenues. We do have that when we need it, and when the maul is working we go to it. We’ll continue to do that tomorrow.”
The return of Kuridrani on Sunday, who ticked off his Wallabies rest requirements last week while nursing a knee injury, is a big bonus for the Brumbies as far as their wide attacking capacity goes.
The Wallabies centre is a big unit and is frequently used to get across the advantage line in the Brumbies’ starter plays.
"It’s awesome to have Tevita back,” Lealiifano said.
"He is a super experienced guy and he adds a lot to our group as well. Lenny (Ikitau) was unlucky to miss out, he has been fantastic as well and I am sure we’ll see more of Lenny throughout his career, but to have Tev back is a massive boost for us.
"It’s confidence lifting for me to have a bigger body out with us, and with his experience as well.”
The Brumbies are sitting second behind the Rebels on the Australian conference table, four points adrift.
A strong win can help them stay in touch for the Aussie title but a loss against the unpredictable Sunwolves would be their first at home this year and see them stuck on 24 points.
"We’re all aware of (the ladder), you can’t hide away from that and people are talking about it, but it’s not a key focus,” Lealiifano said.
"It’s obviously nice to sit on the top of the conference or whatever but this year it has been a key focus for us to be proud of our performance, win or lose … and having our game in a good place at the back end (of the competition).”
The Brumbies will celebrate mother’s day by wearing a special jersey bearing the names of all the players’ mothers.
"Putting the Brumbies jersey is enough to get you up and to lift you, but also to have your mother’s name on there - I am sure the guys play for certain people in their lives and people who have supported them throughout,” Lealiifano said.
"So I think it is extra special to have your mother’s name on your jersey, and to be able to represent them. I am sure it would lift everyone.
"It will be extra special for us, we know that. But it’s got to be down to our footy. We have to show it on our performance and making sure we make them proud in our performance."