The Brumbies’ last-round form and poor record against New Zealand teams will have no bearing on their ability to win this year’s Super Rugby championship, according to coach Stephen Larkham.
The Canberra-based franchise claimed the Australian conference title on Saturday night with a 24-10 win over the last-placed Western Force at GIO Stadium.
The victory knocked the NSW Waratahs out of the race and booked a quarter-final berth against reigning champions the Highlanders in the nation’s capital on Friday.
But it was an uninspiring display that ended with a scoreless second-half and a disappointed coach.
Asked whether the two-try performance was enough win the title, Larkham said it was irrelevant.
“You have your ups and downs in the tournament, and certainly the second half was a half that we’re not particularly happy with, but it’s all irrelevant now,” Larkham said.
“It’s about putting it behind you and taking the things you can take out of it and move onto the next job.”
The Brumbies have only once in five occasions beaten a New Zealand outfit this season – the 2015 grand finalists, the Hurricanes, back in round one.
One of the losses was to the Highlanders, 23-10, in the wet at Invercargill in April.
Their record is reflective of Australia’s overall statistics against the Kiwis – who have four of their five sides in the playoffs – in 2016, with only three wins from 25 games.
“We’ve had our troubles with New Zealand teams,” Larkham conceded.
“But we’ll make sure that our preparation, like every week, is as good as it can be so that, one, we learn from those mistakes and two, give ourselves the best opportunity to play well.”
Superstar Wallabies flanker David Pocock is on track to return from a fractured eye socket, which has sidelined him for almost six weeks.
Larkham will wait until he gets cleared by the club doctor before making a call on his selection.
“There’s a time period from the initial injury that we’ve had to wait for, so depending on what that is we will make the decision internally and then let you know on Wednesday,” he said.