Brumbies captain Stephen Moore admits the pressure to win Friday’s Super Rugby clash with Western Force is unavoidable, given how much is at stake.
The Canberra-based outfit sit equal on points with the NSW Waratahs atop the Australian conference with just two rounds remaining.
A bonus-point victory in Perth will all but secure them a finals berth, but a loss could mean next week’s match against the Crusaders at home is their last for 2015.
“We have to win to stay in the competition – there’s no way to sugar coat that,” Moore said.
“You can package it up however you like, but we need to win.
“The pressure’s unavoidable in this circumstance.”
The only way to relieve it was to focus on how to win and not the result itself, he said.
“We’ve tried to do that all year, talk about the process and what we need to do specifically in the game to play well,” he said.
“And I think if we do that, the outcome will go our way. And if we don’t, it won’t.”
The Brumbies have made just one change to the starting side that beat the Bulls last Friday in Canberra, with Blake Enever replacing an injured Sam Carter at No.5.
Carter’s season is over – and possibly his Rugby World Cup hopes – after tearing a knee ligament at the weekend, ruling him out for up to 12 weeks.
Inside centre Matt Toomua remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
Moore said any club that can name a similar team week-in week-out at this stage of the season was “lucky”, because injuries were always a factor.
“That’s why you … prepare everyone physically and mentally as best you can, because at any one point someone’s going to play a key role in the season and there’s no greater example than Blake this week,” he said.
“He probably didn’t think he’ll be playing, but he comes into the starting side and he’s going to be a key player for us.
“We’re very confident he can do a good job.”
Another key player will be David Pocock, who together with Ita Vaea faces a tough challenge at the breakdown against former Force teammate Matt Hodgson and an in-form Ben McCalman.
“I know the battle will have an impact on how the game goes, no doubt,” Moore said of the Pocock v Hodgson match-up.
“Both are very important for each team; Hodgo’s been playing really well, so has Dave.”
The cellar-dwelling Force are hoping for a repeat of their last-round win over the Brumbies in 2013, denying their opponents second-place overall in the process.