Bulls beware: the Brumbies’ potent attacking lineout is back in business, according to David Pocock, and could be the key to overturning the club’s Super Rugby form slump.
The superstar flanker is confident issues that contributed to four losses in six games have been fixed ahead of Friday’s crucial clash at GIO Stadium.
The match looms as potentially do-or-die for the Canberra-based franchise, who have a crucial block of games before the June international break.
They sit behind the Melbourne Rebels – who they play next week – in the Australian conference, and equal on points with the NSW Waratahs in a battle for Australia’s single guaranteed finals berth.
But the Pretoria-based Bulls have not lost a match since round one and boast a 6-1-1 record and five-match winning streak.
“The Bulls are on a bit of streak and playing some really good rugby so we have to be at our best,” Pocock said on Thursday.
While they suffered another loss last weekend against the Highlanders in New Zealand, Pocock believed there were good signs then and since.
“I thought our effort was great and we held onto the ball for long periods of time, but there are probably one or two things we can improve on and take our game hopefully to the next level.
“One of the biggest things was the lineout, we got penalised a few times, so we’ve fixed that this week.
“I think for every team this year the lineout has been huge as a platform to get some go-forward but also to set a platform for the backs to attack off, so it’s really important.”
Adding to their woes, the Brumbies will be without centre Matt Toomua for Friday’s fixture after he struggled to get through the Highlanders clash.
But they welcome back Wallabies stars Stephen Moore, Scott Sio and Ben Alexander to their starting front row, plus Rory Arnold at lock.
James Dargaville will get his first start of the year on the wing, with Robbie Coleman shifting to inside centre in place of Toomua.
Coach Stephen Larkham said the season had taken its toll on Wallabies back Toomua, who had been finding it hard to get up for training runs.
“We had to make that decision that he needs a bit of a rest, but it gives the other guys and opportunity,” he said.
“Robbie loves to get his hands on the ball so he’s certainly going to be full of energy when we’ve got the ball and he’ll add a different dimension to our attack. He has a little bit of spark there.”
The Brumbies have won three of their last four matches against the Bulls, but not by more than a converted try since 2003.
The Bulls, third in the South African group, have not lost a game since round one and are on a five-match winning streak.