‘Doesn’t count for anything’: Bernie gets serious with Brumbies as race for top two finish heats up


The in-form ACT Brumbies have returned from their bye week raring to go and more mentally switched on than they’ve been all year, Stephen Larkham says.

But the coach insisted his third-placed side must not rest on their laurels as the business-end of the season draws closer. 

Far from interrupting the momentum generated by a five-game winning streak, Larkham said the extra break came at the perfect time before the Brumbies embark on the most difficult fortnight of their campaign.

They fly to Auckland to take on the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday where they’ll try snap an 11-year drought at Eden Park, before returning to the capital to host the Super Rugby Pacific table-topping Hurricanes.

Should the Brumbies come through with flying colours against the Blues, it could set up their bid for a top-two finish and a potential home semi-final.

The importance of that can’t be understated either given the Brumbies have slipped up on tricky away trips in three semi-finals since 2019, including consecutive defeats across the ditch over the past two years.

Stephen Larkham says the Brumbies’ strong start to the season counts for little ahead of their crunch trans-Tasman fixture. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Larkham, whose side were stung by a 46-12 thrashing at the hands of the Chiefs in round two before finding their winning ways, said the mental application during the week had stood out.

“We had a few niggly bodies and we pushed some guys out through seven games in a row, and including pre-season some guys went nine games in a row,” he said.

“They needed the break, and came back nice and fresh.

“The boys are very focused from what I’ve seen this week. 

“I compare it to the Chiefs week, where we had a similar scenario – a couple of days off over the weekend on the back of a Friday game, and we came in a bit sloppy.

“It’s chalk and cheese (this time).”

Already boasting such depth that four Wallabies-capped talents are coming off the bench, further boosts are on the way for the Brumbies.

Larkham confirmed on Thursday “pretty much everyone” will be back in action next weekend, with captain Allan Alaalatoa, centre Len Ikitau and winger Andy Muirhead all pushing to prove their fitness.

Noah Lolesio has a big role to play for the Brumbies across the ditch at Eden Park. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

But the coach was quick to tell his high-flying side their 6-1 record meant little, suggesting a favourable draw had helped carry the Brumbies to third on the table.

“We were relatively lucky in terms of our draw, we came up against some teams that were potentially not hitting their straps,” he said.

“We’ve seen a lot of those teams that we played against improve since we played them.” 

Reflecting on his side’s last-up 40-16 win over the NSW Waratahs, Larkham said there was plenty “we weren’t happy with”.

“We’ve outlined that to the players this week,” he said. 

“They’re under no illusions – what we did in the first seven rounds really doesn’t count for anything.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.