Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham refuses to buy into talk his Super Rugby side will have an easy night against the Cheetahs in Canberra on Saturday.
Despite holding an unbeaten record in five starts at home against the Cheetahs, and even with the Bloemfontein-based side sitting well below them on the table, Larkham remains wary of the visitors.
It’s just over 20 months ago the Brumbies beat the Cheetahs in a 2013 Qualifying Final, but since then, the fortune of the South Africans has been on a downward spiral.
But Larkham doesn’t believe his opposition are a shadow of their former selves.
“Definitely not,” Larkham said.
“We went over there last year and they towelled us up and played really well (27-21 in Round 14).
“Two years ago we played them in a Qualifying Final and if a kick went over on the bell, they would’ve beaten us.
“And they’re one of those sides who can turn it on from week to week, so we certainly won’t be going into the game thinking it’s going to be easy because of their results.
“Their set piece attack is some of the best in world rugby. They come out with a lot of new moves within a season, and they’re very skilful at executing those moves. We’ll have to be very wary in defence.”
With David Pocock recalled to the Brumbies starting side and setting up a up a showdown with Cheetahs’ breakdown general Heinrich Brussow, Larkham agrees that battle is quite likely where the game will be won and lost.
“They’re very similar, yeah, and certainly when you look at the Cheetahs game, there are a couple of guys in their back-row who are very hard on the ball,” he said.
“But Brussow, particularly, is really hard on the ball and is very similar to ‘Poey’ with his skill set as well, and very tough, and he’s certainly someone that we’re going to be keeping an eye on and targeting out there on the paddock.
“It’s going to be a really good match-up.”