UPDATED: "What's pressure?" - McKellar backs composed Lolesio in Brumbies playmaking job

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Dan McKellar says one conversation with Noah Lolesio gave the Brumbies coach the confidence to call on the youngster for a Super Rugby start.

McKellar spoke to Lolesio during last year's NRC season about taking on goal kicking duties to try and test his composure in the heat of a game.

"I said, 'Can you have a chat with Scriv (Vikings coach Nick Scrivener), I'd like you to be doing some goal kicking in a game so that you're under pressure.

"He said to me, 'What's pressure?'. It was just a bit of a joke between us but that's just the attitude he has.

"He doesn't get arrogant or doesn't get ahead of himself but he's got that self confidence and belief in his own ability and he's very calm and composed and I don't think he'll be overawed."

McKellar isn't expecting perfection from his rookie 10, who showed glimpses of his coolness in last week's trial against the Rebels,  but is interested in how Lolesio responds to any setbacks.


"He'll make a mistake or two along the way as we all do, it's about how we respond and how we react to that," he said.

"He's worked really hard to improve his game and just his mindset and his approach and being able to deal with stress and pressure, he'll handle that well."

One of the other big selections for the Brumbies is the inclusion of ex-NRL player Solomone Kata on the wing for his Super Rugby debut.

Kata, who joined the ACT team after six years in the NRL, will start on the edge for the Brumbies against Queensland ahead of experienced campaigner Toni Pulu.

"He's big, powerful, dynamic," McKellar said.

"He's going to cause some stress to most defensive lines this year but also brings some other qualities in and around his breakdown work.

"He's worked hard. I don't think he's missed a training session, performed well and transitioned back into rugby nicely so he's earned it."

An all-Wallabies front row of Scott Sio,Folau Fainga'a and Allan Alaalatoa will be backed up by rookie Harry Lloyd and James Slipper, who has been preparing to play on either side of the scrum.

Darcy Swain and Murray Douglas will have the first opportunity to step up in the second row while Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack and Pete Samu will start in the backrow.

The Brumbies face a Reds side that has some fresh faces in it but McKellar refused to buy into the "young" tag that some have placed on their opponents.

"They've been young for a while now, haven't they?," he said.

"Those young boys, they must be getting older, surely. Been around playing Super Rugby for a while now, so i think we can park the "young" tag with the Reds.

"They've got a core group of boys that have been around their program for a while now so I'm sure they've got high expectations on themselves about winning the Australian conference but we're not too worried about the Reds."

The Brumbies take on the Reds on Friday January 31 at GIO Stadium, kicking off at 7:15pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.

TEAM

Brumbies to take on Reds

1. Scott Sio

2. Folau Fainga'a

3. Allan Alaalatoa (c)

4. Darcy Swain

5. Murray Douglas

6. Rob Valetini

7. Tom Cusack

8. Pete Samu

9. Joe Powell

10. Noah Lolesio*

11. Tom Wright

12. Irae Simone

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Solomone Kata*

15. Tom Banks

Reserves

16. Connal McInerney

17. Harry Lloyd*

18. James Slipper

19. Caderyn Neville^

20. Will Miller^

21. Ryan Lonergan

22. Bayley Kuenzle*

23. Andy Muirhead