Brumbies to play their own game
Brumbies to play their own gameSHARE
It's been nine long years since the Brumbies last featured in Super Rugby play-offs and they are determined to make the most of this opportunity.
The Canberra-based franchise host South Africa's Cheetahs in a preliminary qualifier (quarterfinal), with the visitors making their first appearance in the knock-out stages of the competition.
Brumbies backs coach Stephen Larkham said the side is looking forward to the challenge of finally having another crack at the Super Rugby title.
Larkham was instrumental the last time the ACT-based side featured in the knock-out stages, hen they beat the Crusaders in the 2004 Final.
He is confident the side will be mentally and physically prepared for match against the Cheetahs.
"It's been nine years since the Brumbies last played finals [play-offs], but in the history of this team it's only really been two years – so the guys are really looking forward to it," Larkham said of the group who have restored pride in the capital city's Super Rugby side under the tutelage of World Cup-winning former Springbok coach Jake White.
"The Cheetahs are one team that we haven't played this year so it's a new challenge for us in that respect.
"Finals are all about preparation, making sure you know your opposition, so the preparation and focus is all about Sunday.
"One of the big messages this weekend is to try and play our own game and build pressure on the Cheetahs and make sure we are ready for the intensity that finals footy brings."
The Cheetahs will arrive in the capital for the first time since their thrilling Round Three clash last year which ended in dramatic style with the Brumbies side clinching a 24-23 win.
While the Brumbies have improved greatly since that day, so too have the Cheetahs who find themselves playing in their first finals series since their introduction into Super Rugby in 2006.
The Cheetahs have been one of the surprise packets of the 2013 season, finishing in sixth spot on the table with 10 wins from their 16 games – including a five-week unbeaten run earlier in the season.
But while Larkham expects the Cheetahs will enter the match very strongly, he is hoping that a strong Canberra crowd will turn out on Sunday to help the Brumbies get over the line.
"The crowd will really come into affect on Sunday, so hopefully we can get a really good crowd out there," Larkham said.
"We had a really good crowd for the British and Irish Lions game and that really motivated and lifted the team out there."
Source: Brumbies media unit