A loss of momentum from a week off, potential team changes and some rusty combinations – Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham will take what ever perceived advantages he can get when his side plays the Hurricanes in a Super Rugby semi-final on Saturday.
The Canberra-based side will start underdogs against the runaway table toppers, but Larkham feels his team has good recent momentum, especially coming off last week’s demolition of the Stormers in Cape Town.
The Hurricanes had a week off courtesy of finishing first, but Larkham doesn’t believe that means they will hold all the advantages going into Saturday’s game in Wellington.
“They will be nice and fresh but maybe their combinations will be lacking,” Larkham said on Tuesday.
“They’ve had a number of injuries over the last couple of rounds and a lot of those players are potentially coming back this week, so we’ll see if that affects their combinations.’
Larkham reported no injury issues from last weekend’s game and said the emphasis was on not over-training the players in the leadup to the weekend.
Although Larkham was pleased that his side scored several tries from multi-phase moves last weekend, he stressed they weren’t about to abandon the rolling maul which has delivered them numerous five-pointers in the second half of the season.
Captain and hooker Stephen Moore wasn’t looking to appropriate the underdog tag for his side despite them scraping into the finals in the sixth and last playoff spot.
“We haven’t taken the mentality we’ve got nothing to lose,” Moore said.
“We want to win the comp, so we’re not trying to play second fiddle or anything like that.”
He suggested they were far from daunted by the historic challenge of trying to win finals matches in two overseas countries in successive weeks.
The Brumbies fell just short two years ago, when they won a semi-final in Pretoria but lost a close final the following week in Hamilton.
“It tells you it’s very difficult to do from being there a couple of years ago. It’s a tough challenge no doubt,” Moore said.
“But it’s something the boys are excited about. It’s a pretty special opportunity for us to still be in the competition at this stage.”