The Brumbies are already plotting a drought-breaking win over the Crusaders after taking charge of the Australian conference with a hoodoo-busting Super Rugby triumph over the NSW Waratahs.
The Brumbies shot clear of the faltering Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs and into fourth place overall with their first victory at Allianz Stadium in 14 years.
But there’s no looking back following Saturday night’s spirited 26-20 win, just a firm focus on finding a solution to the Crusaders’ seven-year, five-match winning streak over the ACT outfit.
The seven-times Super champions return to Canberra on Sunday having also won their past two encounters in the national capital and after dispatching the Jaguares 32-15 in Christchurch to remain hot on the tails of New Zealand’s conference-leading Chiefs.
“The Crusaders are on a bit of a roll, aren’t they? Six games in a row now,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.
“Most of the New Zealand sides have started to hit their form, but they’re all slightly different.
“We came up against a pretty good Chiefs side two weekends ago and we were just that little bit off our game.
“The good thing for us is we’ve got an eight-day turnaround, which we haven’t had so far this year.”
Skipper Stephen Moore admitted the abrupt retirement of power forward Ita Vaea due to a heart condition last week had given the Brumbies a fresh outlook entering the halfway point of the competition.
“It (retirement) is going to happen to all of us at some stage. Some of us are closer than others to the end. Hopefully I’d like to think all that kind of stuff puts it in perspective,” he said.
“I was in Newcastle last week and saw a young guy who broke his neck playing rugby in Maitland.
“He’s in a wheelchair for the rest of his life so that sort of stuff puts everything in perspective, that’s for sure.
“It’s only a game at the end of the day.”
Larkham is also proud of the way his side is soldiering on despite the off-field turmoil engulfing the franchise as chief executive Michael Jones fights for his job in the ACT Supreme Court.
“There’s been really clear delineation between what’s happening off the field and what the boys are trying to put on the field,” he said.
“I know some guys are probably talking about it. Some of the senior players are probably thinking about it, but it’s certainly not resonating through the team.”
While the Brumbies are back on the up, the Waratahs remain very much on the slide, slumping more than two wins behind Australia’s conference leaders – but significantly with a game in hand.
Melbourne’s 38-13 home loss to the Hurricanes was a setback in their hopes for a maiden finals berth, while the Reds can definitely start planning for 2017 after being unable to back up their superb win over the Highlanders, losing 41-22 to the Bulls in Pretoria.