Brumbies brush off poor record v NZ sides

Australian sides have only twice managed to beat a New Zealand rival in 11 attempts this Super Rugby season.

But don’t try suggest to Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham that’s a telling sign ahead of Sunday’s battle against the Crusaders at GIO Stadium.

“It’s irrelevant really, isn’t it?” he said.

“Looking at the stats is not going to help our performance on the weekend.

“Particularly for us, when you come up against a New Zealand side, we’re looking at the specific individuals within that team that we’re against and their strength and weaknesses.”

The Brumbies and Queensland Reds are the only two local sides to have won matches against Kiwi opposition in 2016, respectively defeating last year’s finalists the Hurricanes and Highlanders.

The Reds also posted a draw with the Blues in round four.

But Larkham said the poor record was not a sore point for the Brumbies, who were smashed 48-23 by the Chiefs three weeks ago in their biggest ever loss at home.

“Not with this team,” he said.

“With where we’re at the moment, the motivation is exactly where it needs to be.

“This is another opportunity for us now to go against a New Zealand side. They’re all slightly different but I think they’ve all started to play some really good football the last couple of weeks.

“Irrespective of the stats of the competition, it’s a big game for us this weekend.”

The Crusaders have shown plenty of strength this season, winning their last six matches.

They also hold the wood over the Brumbies with five successive victories dating back to 2009.

This match pits Australia’s most successful franchise, and current conference leader, with Super Rugby’s most prolific champions.

It also brings together two of the game’s best wingers in Joe Tomane and Nemani Nadolo.

Tomane leads the competition with 19 clean breaks ahead of Nadolo’s 15, and has scored five tries to his rival’s two.

Nadolo, however, has made 15 offloads this season – more than any other player.

“I looked at their stats and they’re both very similar,” co-captain Stephen Moore said.

“It’s going to be a great contest there and that’s what people want to see – players like that playing at their best.”

The Brumbies have named the same starting side that beat the NSW Waratahs last week, while the Crusaders will be without inside cetnre Ryan Crotty (hamstring) and Johnny McNicholl (toe).

They’ve been replaced by David Havili and Jone Macilai, while All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock returns from a week off via the bench.

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