Brumbies brace for intense Cheetahs
Brumbies assistant coach Stephen Larkham has warned his players to expect a step up in intensity against the Cheetahs in Sunday's play-off.
Brumbies assistant coach Stephen Larkham has warned his players to expect a step up in intensity against the Cheetahs in their Super Rugby play-off in Canberra this Sunday.
As a player, Larkham excelled in all-or-nothing encounters, famously sinking South Africa in the 1999 World Cup semifinals with a long-range drop-goal and guiding the Brumbies to their two Super Rugby titles.
It is based on these personal experiences that Larkham is preparing the Canberra side to steel themselves for an extra-ordinary onslaught from the Cheetahs in their first play-off in nine years.
"It's do or die," Larkham said.
"You get that intensity for the full 80 minutes, particularly the contact areas.
"Guys will throw themselves in there a little bit more.
"They're not going to hold anything back because they're not worried about injuries as it's potentially the last game of the season."
The Australian Conference winners were rusty in their first match after the June Test window and subsequently slumped to a surprise 15-21 loss to the Western Force at the weekend.
Larkham, however, pointed to France’s unlikely road to the 2011 World Cup Final following their shock loss to Tonga as a prime example as to why the upset against the Force will have no bearing on them.
"You look at the French in the World Cup. They got through to the Final and nearly beat New Zealand, having played so poorly in the round games," Larkham said.
"Your form beforehand doesn't really matter. You can change your mindset in a week quite easily in Super Rugby."
Inside centre and goal kicker Christian Lealiifano said the team are gelling again at training this week.
"Absolutely, it's about our time together, training together and then everything should happen on Sunday," Lealiifano said.
"You've just got to build to that each day and the boys are definitely doing that.
"This group definitely bounces back from a loss."