The Brumbies say they’re mentally and physically prepared for their sudden-death battle against the Stormers in South Africa, despite a disappointing end to the regular Super Rugby season.
The Canberra outfit let slip an opportunity to win the Australian conference with a 37-24 loss on Saturday to the Crusaders at GIO Stadium.
It was the third time in four years the Brumbies had dropped their final-round match.
The result relegated them to sixth overall and gifted the NSW Waratahs a top-two finish.
Instead of a week off and a home semi-final, they’ll be on a plane to Cape Town on Monday for a knockout qualifier versus the third-placed Stormers on Saturday (Sunday 1am AEST).
Coach Stephen Larkham said the fact they played there barely a month ago was a massive advantage, even though it ended in a one-point defeat because of a missed Christian Lealiifano kick.
“It was a really physical game and I thought we matched them physically there, so we can take a lot out of that,” he said.
“And we can take a lot out of the fact we did it two years ago in 2013, when we had to play the Cheetahs here, then had to go over and play the Bulls in South Africa before coming back and playing the final in New Zealand.
“We’re capable of doing it.
“We get the prep right this week and we’ll give ourselves every chance.”
Captain Stephen Moore said it was more a mental challenge than anything.
“A lot of the travel stuff, what is it? It’s not something you can see or touch so there’s no reason why you can’t overcome that type of thing,” he said.
“You fly over there, you lie down for 14 hours, you actually don’t do anything and it’s the time difference.
“So you’ve got to adapt to that really quickly and you’ve got to speak about that.
“You’ve got to nail your preparation in these type of weeks … and if you can do that, there’s no reason why you can’t play well.”
Moore said the Brumbies’ experience of 2013 provided some comfort.
“If there’s one thing we can take confidence in is that we have been there before and been through this path before,” he said.
“It’s not your preferred path but that’s the way it is now, so we’ve got to dust ourselves off and go again.”
Larkham expects flanker David Pocock to be fit to play, despite a knock to the head against the Crusaders.
He left the field just before halftime and did not return after failing a concussion test.