It’s been cleaned and polished, and now the Brumbies are ready to show off their attacking game in Friday night’s Super Rugby season-opener against the Hurricanes in Canberra.
Coach Stephen Larkham accepts there’s some risk involved as the club adapts to its strengths to chase its first title in 12 years, but he is determined to find the right balance.
Nippy Argentina halfback Tomas Cubelli is central to Brumbies’ more open game plan, as he brings his sharp running in his Super Rugby debut to help spark the classy backline including Wallabies Christian Lealiifano at five eighth, Matt Toomua, Tevita Kuridrani and flyers Joe Tomane and Henry Speight.
Larkham tested his plans in the Brumbies’ trials against the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds, with a focus on less kicking and more running out of their own half.
“I think we’ve done enough to be ready for this game,” Larkham said.
“It’s always about balance. If you try and run too many times out of there, you’re running a risk that you probably don’t need to take.
“We’ll find that balance tomorrow.”
Cubelli is among three debutants named for the round-one clash at GIO Stadium, alongside Aidan Toua at fullback and Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin off the bench.
Toua got in ahead of incumbent No.15 Robbie Coleman who is making his way back from a calf injury.
The Brumbies have opted to stick with the same playmaking combination they finished with last year, with co-captain Lealiifano at No.10 and Toomua at inside centre.
Emerging star Alan Alaalatoa, considered a Wallaby-in-the-making by Larkham, will get a chance to press his claims for a starting spot at loosehead prop.
It’ll be his first start for the Brumbies at home, stepping in for Scott Sio who will be eased back off the bench following knee and elbow injuries during a gruelling World Cup campaign last year.
With 11 internationals in his starting XV and a stable of stars who have been at the club since 2012, Larkham reckons experience will count for a lot against last year’s finalists.
The Hurricanes will be without the captain and hooker Dane Coles, who picked up a calf injury in training this week.
Larkham said it was a significant blow for the visitors, but good for the Brumbies.
“(He’s) very devastating in attack, defensively he gets around the field really well and adds a lot of impact to them,” said Larkham.
“I think they’ve lost a little bit of leadership and a little bit of experience there, and hopefully he gets back on the park soon.”
The match will be co-captain Stephen Moore’s 150th in Super Rugby.
Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, Christian Lealiifano, Tomas Cubelli, Ita Vaea, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Allan Alaalatoa. Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Michael Dowsett, Andrew Smith.