TEAM NEWS: McKellar urges return to positivity as Brumbies prepare for Bulls clash

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Dan McKellar has urged a return to positivity about the game as his Brumbies refocus on an Australian conference win and Super Rugby finals spot.

Lock Rory Arnold and backrower Rob Valetini return to the Brumbies side to take on the Bulls this weekend and McKellar hopes talk can turn from off-field dramas to the on-field action as three Aussie teams battle for what could be just one Super Rugby finals spot for the conference.

The Brumbies lead the Australian conference by a single point from the Rebels, with the Waratahs just two points further back on a jammed ladder and McKellar hopes their finals race can now dominate headlines in the wake of the Israel Folau saga.

"Just talk positively about the game," said McKellar, who also celebrated the re-signing of Wallabies and Brumbies prop Scott Sio yesterday.

"We've got rugby union people that are bashing rugby union. Why would they be doing that?

"We're starting to see the benefits of four teams and two Australian teams might sneak into the finals.

 

"We've got a World Cup year in Tokyo and the Wallabies have proven in the past that they perform well at World Cups.

"Let's start talking about the good things. Let's start talking about the footy instead of worrying about beating ourselves up all the time."

McKellar and his men will do their part in encouraging that positivity by being ready for the Bulls and what they expect will be a physical contest against the South African side.

"There'll be no surprises there in terms of what they bring," McKellar said.

"They've got some individual threats. (Handre) Pollard is a real threat with ball in hand.

"Obviously he hurt us over there last year and he hurt the Rebels on Friday night.

"(Rosko) Speckman is dangerous, so we've got to make sure that we limit his opportunities and surround him with bodies when he's got the ball."

Dan McKellar has a handy group to work with in 2019. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

Speckman was devastating against the Rebels and McKellar said he added another dimension to an already dangerous Bulls side.

"They've probably got a little bit more footy in their game this year," he said.

"They're probably a bit more dangerous off the cuff and players like Speckman who can change a game very quickly and they compliment what they've traditionally brought to each game - a good set piece and physicality.

"We've got a strategy on how we think we need to play them to be effective and we learnt a few things that compliment that strategy on Friday night (watching the Bulls play the Rebels)."

Discipline though, will be the key for the Brumbies given Pollard's ability to slot kicks from around the ground.

"Disciple has been spoken about," McKellar said.

"Three, six, nine, 12, he'll have you down 15-0 before you know it - and from 50 or 60m out.

"So we've got to keep (referee) Jaco (Peyper) on side."

Handre Pollard will make his return to the Springboks' 23. Photo: Getty Images

The bye has done nothing to blunt the Brumbies' momentum.

"The feeling's really positive, the boys are excited to be back," McKellar said.

"We had a look back at our season to date in the team meeting and it showed where we've come from as a group and that really resonates with the boys and we're excited at what the next block presents for us.

"I don't think the bye was a disruption for us, it came at a good time. We had to freshen up and had a lot of travel and sore bodies, so we don't look at the bye as a disruption."

The Brumbies take on the Bulls at GIO Stadium on Friday, May 24, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, live on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au.

TEAM

Brumbies to face the Bulls

1. Scott Sio

2. Folau Fainga’a

3. Allan Alaalatoa

4. Rory Arnold 

5. Sam Carter

6. Tom Cusack

7. Jahrome Brown

8. Pete Samu

9. Joe Powell

10. Christian Lealiifano

11. Toni Pulu

12. Irae Simone

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Henry Speight

15. Tom Banks

Reserves

16. Connal Mcinerney

17. James Slipper

18. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin

19. Darcy Swain

20. Murray Douglas

21. Rob Valetini

22. Ryan Lonergan

23. Tom Wright