Brumbies must beware the Spec-magic of Rosko, warns Sio

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

Brumbies prop Scott Sio has warned his team against focussing on the age-old stereotyped strength of the Bulls - their monster pack - at GIO Stadium on Friday night.

The giant forwards from Pretoria will need to be contained, of course, but Sio says to ignore the threats of their electric back three and much-improved backline play would be a huge mistake.

Though missing the Springbok no.10 Handre Pollard in Canberra this week, the Bulls arrived with confidence after dispatching the Rebels in Melbourne last Friday.

Key to the Bulls’ victory was the combined potency of a muscular pack and the incisive wide attack of wingers Rosko Specman and Cornal Hendricks, and fullback Warrick Gelant.

Specman, the 30-year-old ex-sevens wizard, was particularly devastating.

"I have been saying this for a while now,” Sio said on Thursday.

"Obviously South Africans pride themselves on the set-piece - maul, scrum, lineout - and they’ve been very good at that for a number of years now.

"But I think the evolution of their game has come from the interplay between the backs and the forwards.

"They (the Bulls’ back three) have some wicked feet and they can really turn you around. That’s what we really have to be wary about. 

"It’s not a case of us just being up for it at set-piece. We have to be up for it across the board.”

The Bulls’ fast men can’t do much without the power work done by their forwards up front, and Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano was quick to point out the work done by experienced men like RG Snyman, Paul Schoeman and Duane Vermuelen.

"They’re a real physical team who are playing with tempo and brutality,” Lealiifano said.

"We have to meet that physically, and the tempo and brutality as well and put our game out there as well.”

The Bulls and the Brumbies both lead their respective conferences but neither with any wriggle room for defeat; highlighting the expected intensity that will unfold in Canberra.

The Brumbies haven’t lost a game at home this year and Sio hopes that will drive the ACT men upwards.

"It’s a different position for us to be in this year,” he said.

"In previous years we have been chasing but to be in the drivers seat is great. The pressure is on us and it forces us to go up a level in the next couple of weeks. We have a tough run heading home and I am looking forward to it.”

Sio also spoke about Lealiifano’s return to the Wallabies’ fold after the 30-year-old got a call-up to the pre-World Cup camp in Brisbane at the weekend.

“It was unreal - he brings such a positive energy to any group he is with, and you could see the effect that he has on the group there,” Sio said.

"He has been around for such a long time now so his professionalism is something I think because of his kind and humorous nature is something people tend to overlook.

"He is definitely one of the hardest working players I have had the pleasure of playing with and he is one of the players I try to model my preparation on as well.

"The great thing about him is his attitude: I am going to go through my day the way I want to, I am going to live my life the way I want to. I want to earn everything off my merit and I respect that massively. 

"He has worked really hard to come back and put himself in the position he is now, and hopefully put his best foot forward for a World Cup spot.”

The Brumbies take on the Bulls at GIO Stadium on Friday night at 7.45pm. LIVE on FoxSports, Kayo and RUGBY.com.au Radio.