Bashed out of the contest last meeting, the Brumbies have pledged to man up against the NSW Waratahs to prove themselves genuine Super Rugby heavyweights on Friday night.
Test prop Ben Alexander readily admits the Brumbies lost the physicality stakes in last month’s 28-13 defeat to the defending champions in Sydney and says there mustn’t be any retreating in the return stoush at GIO Stadium.
“They definitely won the collisions last time,” Alexander said on Tuesday.
“So we’ll take lessons from that and look at why that was and work on areas to make sure we up it…they definitely got on the front foot and got the ascendancy, which gave guys like Izzy Folau good ball and he got man of the match.
“Their backs definitely rely on good front-foot ball and their forwards did a good job of giving that to them last time.
“It’s a big match. We’ve got big ambitions. We’ve stated that we want to win Super Rugby this year and if you are going to do this, you want to beat the side that won it last year.”
Teammate Jordan Smiler, who impressed filling the boots of Wallabies lock Sam Carter in the Brumbies’ bonus-point win over the Highlanders last Friday night, said defensive line speed was the key to shutting down the Waratahs.
But Alexander said it wasn’t as simple as that.
“It’s easier said than done,” he said.
“They’re big guys and skilful guys at that. You can fly out and try to hit a guy but you’ve got guys like Will Skelton, who’s got really good hands, Cliffy Palu, Taf Polota-Nau.
“All their big ball carriers have got the ability to offload. They’re the top offloading side in the comp.
“So it’s more than just that. It really is a team effort in defence. One, you get a good shot on them, but you’ve got to stop their offloads.”
The Brumbies currently occupy second spot on the ladder and first in the Australian conference, four points ahead of the Waratahs.
But the seventh-placed Tahs have a game in hand over the Brumbies, who head to South Africa for vital games against the Stormers and Lions after Friday’s big derby.
“It’s a big block leading into the bye after that,” Alexander said.
“So we’ve got three really, really tough matches.”