Brumbies out to restore former glory
Tue, 26 Mar 2013 09:02
It could almost be the Wallaby backline
Brumbies coach Jake White believes that his young squad has what it takes to bring the glory days back to Canberra in the coming years.
When the former Springbok coach made the move to Australia he took over a demoralised and divided side which had fallen some way from the all-conquering outfit of the early 2000's.
As a result White had to start afresh, and he went about stamping his mark by moulding a fit squad of players who were willing to play with commitment and discipline, with a strong focus on the team ethic.
His first season in charge saw a far more consistent outfit produce encouraging results despite not having many 'big-name' Wallabies to call on, and although they fell just short of making the play-offs there was no doubt that a major culture change had taken place in Canberra.
With that first season under their belt as a team, the Brumbies stormed to the top of the standings at the start of this season, with many of the young players that White brought through last year starring for them in the early rounds.
While their form this season has been good, White believes that the best is yet to come from this team and expects them to emulate the powerful Brumbies side that dominated Super Rugby a decade ago and formed the backbone of the Wallabies team.
"The exciting thing about this team is that they are all young, so they are going to be around for a while. I talk to them about the fact that household names in South Africa like Gregan, Larkham, Mortlock and Joe Roff - everybody knew them.
"That backline was basically taken straight into the Wallaby team, so the Brumbies were known as the Wallaby backline. A lot of the style that the Brumbies played with went into the Wallaby set-up.
"The thing that I am excited about is the fact that I know that in two or three years time the Wallaby backline could be Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Tevita Kuridrani, Jesse Mogg and Henry Speight, with Nic White as a halfback.
"It could almost be the Wallaby backline and that is what is so exciting - to have boys that I know can play at the highest level in the next couple of seasons and also staying together and having a mentor like Stephen Larkham coaching them," he said.
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said that White's influence on the squad has been massive, and pointed to his impressive support staff as key to their success.
"The main thing that strikes me about what Jake has brought in is that from the very first day he has surrounded himself with people that challenge him, and I think that says a lot about the guy.
"You are not putting patsies into positions who are just saying 'Yes' to you the whole time, you have got guys like Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham in lines of communication that are going to challenge him.
"So straight away off the bat he is putting the programme first, he is the type of guy who expects a lot from his players but delivers a lot himself," he said.
Mowen believes that the current positive atmosphere within the group could well see them reach the heights that legendary Brumbies sides of the past achieved.
"I think you can see in the way we play, it is very much for each other. He said to me himself that he feels that this side feels like a family.
"I know from speaking to some former players that their favourite times were with the Brumbies when it was that sort of feeling and I think that Jake had a very clear idea when he came to Australia about how he wanted to create that.
"It is extremely hard to create that culture, it does not just come overnight and we have worked extremely hard at it," he explained.
Mowen also made it clear that after White's success in the role, it is unlikely that the Brumbies will allow him to go rushing back to South Africa any time soon as they look to restore their former glory.
We just feel as a side that we are extremely fortunate to have him. I don't know why you gave him up but we are not giving him back," he quipped.
By Michael de Vries
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