Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has warned his Wallabies stars to stay focused on Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with the Sunwolves, aware that they could prove a banana peel.
Ten of Larkham’s men have been named in a squad of 39 for next month’s Test series against England and will fly to the Gold Coast for camp on Sunday.
While most are experienced in juggling both, it’s new territory for the likes of Joe Powell, Allan Alaalatoa and Rory Arnold.
And all will be wanting to prove their worth in the hope of earning national selection.
“That’s going to be an issue for these guys, to make sure their head is in the game here,” Larkham said on Friday.
The Brumbies sit just one point behind the NSW Waratahs who lead the Australian conference ahead of the final round before the June international break.
But they have a smoother run home, with matches against Japan’s Sunwolves, the Queensland Reds, Blues and Western Force – three of which are at GIO Stadium.
“There’s an opportunity for us now,” added Larkham.
“If we win them all, we’ll more than likely be in the finals.
“I think there’s been good focus throughout the season and that’s just got to be the last little focus for these boys.”
Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore admits it will be a challenge to keep minds focused on Saturday’s battle given the timing and excitement ahead.
“It comes back to the guys that have been there and done it before to make sure that that doesn’t distract the team,” he said.
The Brumbies are heavy favourites, but Moore believes such favouritism made games like these the most dangerous, especially when a side like the Sunwolves have nothing to lose.
“It’s very easy, particularly for young players, to fall into that false sense of security and get a bit complacent,” Moore said.
“The challenge is to make sure that our preparation is at a really high standard and that we go into the game knowing that we’ve got to play really well.”
Speedy halfback Tomas Cubelli has been rested from the match ahead of expected Test appearances for Argentina, as has Wallabies prop Ben Alexander.
Michael Dowsett will get his first start of the season in place of Cubelli, keeping new Wallabies scrum-half Powell on the bench.
Robbie Coleman returns from a hamstring strain at inside centre, pushing James Dargaville back to the wing.