Dan McKellar backs young Brumbies to step up as focus shifts to finals

Fri, 16/04/2021, 03:45 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Dan McKellar overlooks training ahead of their Round Nine match with the Rebels | Brumbies Media/Lachlan Lawson

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar is confident that his team can bounce back from a narrow loss to the Reds as they travel to Melbourne to face the Rebels.

In their two clashes with the now-confirmed minor premiers, the Brumbies have led for 153 of the 160 minutes.

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However, they have come away with two losses, ensuring that they will finish second as they wrap up hosting rights for the Qualifying Final on May 1.

With this in mind, the Brumbies have taken the chance to freshen up their squad, most notably resting Pete Samu, Tom Cusack and Irae Simone.

They have also moved Wallabies Nic White and James Slipper to the bench.

This allows local product Rory Scott and Lachlan Lonergan to get their first start of the season against the Rebels on Sunday, with McKellar eager to see them step up.

“A couple of the boys (James Slipper and Nic White) have been around for a while and have had pretty heavy workloads both training and game-wise,” he explained to reporters on Thursday.

"Ryan Lonergan gets a crack there at halfback with Scotty (Sio) rotating in so we can get some good minutes into him and freshen both Whitey and Slips up.

“It’s a really good chance for Rory Scott, who performed well this year, BK (Bailey Kuenzle) as well. No long-term injuries but a couple of bumps and bruises out of Saturday’s physical game which is what you expect.”

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Whilst their spot in the finals is set, McKellar was adamant that their focus remained on Sunday's clash with the Rebels at AAMI Park, very familiar with their strengths after needing an 83rd-minute penalty to beat them in the corresponding fixture in Round Three

"We're going down there to win and make sure we're creating momentum but it's a chance to rotate a couple of players like we would any week and take that opportunity," he added.

“We’ll finish second on the ladder and host the semi-final but we’ve picked a side to go down there and beat Melbourne.

"We know what threats Melbourne will possess. They’ll be hard on the ball, they've got a world class winger and a good ten and captain who will direct them around the park so we’re fairly familiar with each other.”

Their success has meant that a large majority of the squad missed the opening days of training due to their selection in Wallabies camp.

Halfback Ryan Lonergan admits that the unique Sunday fixture has alleviated any concerns surrounding their preparations.

“We treated it as a six day turnaround with a little extra rest,” Lonergan said.

“I don’t think it’s been too different. Everyone’s feeling pretty confident and good.

“Obviously we’ve got the early kick-off so we’ve got to get our heads around that but it should be good arvo of footy."

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Sunday afternoon Rugby is back in Melbourne this weekend when the Rebels take on the Brumbies at AAMI Park, kicking off at 2:00pm AEST, the home side will look to keep their finals hopes alive following a narrow loss to the Force last weekend.  You can catch all the action LIVE on Stan Sport,click here to purchase tickets.

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