Halfback Tomas Cubelli is confident his Brumbies team can handle the high intensity and tempo he’s expecting in Friday’s Super Rugby quarter-final.
Cubelli, who has earned 48 caps for Argentina, believes the pace will be hot and the intensity close to Test level against the Highlanders in what is set to be freezing conditions in Canberra.
He will get his initial taste of Super finals action after a strong first season with the Canberra-based franchise.
The Brumbies lost 23-10 to the Highlanders in Invercargill at the end of April after leaking 48 and 40 points at home to two other New Zealand sides, the Chiefs and Crusaders respectively.
“We didn’t do well against the Kiwi teams,” Cubelli said.
“They have very good skills and the tempo of the game will be very high, very intense, so it’s another big challenge for us and I think we can manage that.”
The competition’s governing body SANZAAR was responsible for settling on the unusual 6pm (AEST) kickoff time.
With three rugby league games schedule at the venue the following day, stadium officials feared the usual 7.40pm start time, combined with a potential frost, would make it impossible to get line markings and sponsors painted on the field before the Raiders’ under-20s start on Saturday at 10.40am.
“Six o’clock is warmer than a quarter to eight,” quipped Brumbies and Wallabies back-rower Scott Fardy, who is used to chilly winter games in the nation’s capital.
A Brumbies official said ticket sales have been very strong, with free pies to early arriving fans among the inducements being offered.
Players from the other four eliminated Australian Super franchises will continue training as they await the announcement of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s squad for the opening Rugby Championship match against New Zealand in Sydney next month.
It’s believed the Wallabies will prepare for the game at Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, with the ARU expected to make an announcement in the next couple of days.
Some of the overseas-based players, including winger Drew Mitchell, who is recovering from groin surgery, are already back in Australia.