The Brumbies say they aren’t fooled by the Sunwolves’ almost-winless first season in Super Rugby, expecting a fast and clinical contest in Canberra on Saturday night.
The Japanese outfit have had just one win in 11 matches this year and boast the second-worst points differential in the competition, behind only South African strugglers the Kings.
But their 17-17 draw with the Stormers just over a week ago and near-upset over the Queensland Reds on Saturday has left the Brumbies wary.
“They’ll definitely be tougher than everyone thinks they’ll be,” said prop Ruan Smith, who has played in Japan.
“I think they’ll try to shut us down quickly and especially come hard off their defensive line and breakdown, where they’ll get in our face – that’s the sort of mentality they have.”
Smith said their size and strength is often underestimated, as is their technical scrum work and experience.
Hooker Josh Mann-Rea, vying to take Stephen Moore’s starting place at the Brumbies when he heads to the Reds next season, agrees.
“We can’t take this team lightly because they’ve been really good performers,” said Mann-Rea, who has also had a stint in Japan.
“It’s a very high-tempo game usually, so the whole 80 minutes it’ll be fast and they’re pretty clinical at the breakdown.”
The Brumbies sit one point behind Australian conference leaders the NSW Waratahs and 10th on the overall ladder with four games remaining.
Saturday’s clash at GIO Stadium is their last before the June international break and a relatively smooth run of matches against the Reds, Blues and Western Force – two of them at home.
“Regardless of who we’re playing, we need to get the most out of these next four games to put ourselves in the best position to have a home semi-final and home knockout,” added Smith.
“That’s our focus, to do the best we can and get the most points.”
Robbie Coleman trained on Monday and is expected to return from a hamstring complaint this weekend.