Their bodies are sore but the Brumbies’ minds are focused on stopping the free-running, pace-setting Chiefs in Saturday’s home Super Rugby blockbuster.
After almost a month on the road – and amid the franchise’s unfolding legal stoush – coach Stephen Larkham kept training to a minimum this week ahead of the Australian conference leaders’ biggest test of the season.
He knows the Chiefs, the top-ranked New Zealand side, will attempt to run the Brumbies ragged and they boast the best attacking record in the competition with 28 tries in five games.
They smashed Western Force 53-10 at home last week, adding to wins over the Jaguares, Kings and Crusaders, all on the road.
And their great strength is a brilliant backline from nippy halfback Brad Weber and classy playmaker Aaron Cruden out to centre Charlie Ngatai, winger James Lowe and diminutive fullback whiz Damian McKenzie.
“The Chiefs are on top of the table for good reason,” Larkham said on Friday.
“We’ve had a pretty good defensive record but we know these guys are very dangerous.
“They’ve got a lot of offloads in their game, a lot of pops off the deck, and they keep the ball alive really well.
“We know they’re going to pose a threat from the first minute to the 80th minute.”
The Brumbies only arrived back from South Africa late on Monday night but are somewhat motivated by next week’s bye ahead of trips to Sydney and New Zealand in coming weeks.
Larkham has gone with the same starting XV that beat the Cheetahs last week, while back-up hooker Josh Mann-Rea returns from suspension to the bench alongside Les Leulua’iali’i-Makin and Joe Powell.
Co-captain Stephen Moore believes the bench will be central to the Brumbies’ success on Saturday night, as will focus.
While it’s been hard to avoid the ongoing legal drama involving the club’s board and CEO Michael Jones, Moore is confident that won’t seep onto the field.
Jones, who is awaiting a ruling from the ACT Supreme Court on his challenge to the board’s decision to stand him down last week, was an interested observer at Friday’s captain’s run.
“It’s obviously not possibly to completely block it out because the guys are interested in what goes on in their own place of work, but it’s not something we can control,” Moore said.
“Tomorrow’s an opportunity for us to go out there and do something that (the fans) are proud of.”
The Brumbies have only lost one of 10 clashes with the Chiefs in Canberra, winning eight and drawing the other.