To lose a Super Rugby finals berth at the last hurdle would be more than a disappointment, Brumbies coach Jake White says.
It would label their entire 2012 season a failure.
The Brumbies are achingly close to their first finals campaign since 2004 – when they won the title – and they don’t even need a win against the lowly-ranked Blues on Saturday, just a bonus-point loss will see them through.
It’s been an outstanding year for White’s self-proclaimed “no-name” Brumbies, who are five points clear at the head of the Australian conference despite many pre-season predictions they’d be bringing up the rear.
Under White’s reign, the ACT franchise has also broken multiple barriers this year, the latest just last week when they won for the first time in 16 years at ANZ Stadium over the NSW Waratahs.
But the World Cup-winning coach says all their achievements will count for naught if they don’t get over the line on Saturday.
Asked if the year could still be rated a success if they don’t advance to the finals from their clash with the Auckland-based Blues, White said: “I must be honest – I don’t think it would be.
“When you’re as close as we are, tomorrow – if we don’t get through – that would be a failure.
“We’ve done the hard yards and you quite rightly say a lot of people didn’t think we’d get this far, but at the same time … we need to get on with the job.”
Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said nerves had steadied in the week since the Waratahs game because they had a clear goal.
“There’s still an edge of nervousness but I think it’s calmer this week,” he said.
“There’s a lot of different results that could have happened last week, which meant this, which meant that, but tomorrow – if you’re in, you’re in.
“It’s a good way to be.”
But Mowen is still looking for an improved performance against the struggling Blues, who last won in Canberra in 2007, arguing the Brumbies were forced to play too much defensive football against the Tahs.
And forget the mathematics – Mowen said only a win would do.
“I know it’s been thrown around a bit this week that all you need is a bonus-point loss, but I can tell you one thing: I’ve never played for a loss in my life and I won’t be playing for one tomorrow.”
Both White and Mowen agreed Australia should jump on the Brumbies bandwagon should they end up being the only Australian team in the finals.
Second-placed in the local conference, the Queensland Reds need a four-try victory over the Waratahs on Saturday night plus a raft of other results to go their way to earn a wildcard finals entry.