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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Super 14: Focus on Brumbies

Article by Lee Grant

One good thing about the Brumbies’ catalogue of injuries last year is that it gave new reserve players a chance before their time. It also weeded out some players who were not up to the mark. Whether this will be enough to get the Brumbies into the finals is arguable. I doubt that it is.

The losses of Fava to the Force and Finegan to Newcastle will be severe and the acquisition of Heenan doesn’t redress these and other losses adequately. Henjak’s departure was disappointing, but I think that his replacements are both fine players, who are more than ready for pro rugby; in fact, Phibbs has already played for Saracens as cover when their internationals were away at the RWC two years ago. One of the reasons we wanted a 4th Super team was to have a look at alternatives as players moved around, and Phibbs and Burgess are worth looking at.

By S14 standards the Brumbies should have a strong lineout with no problem fielding 3 good lineout receivers in any game they play, with players like Chisholm, Samo, Heenan, Campbell and AWH available at lock or 6.

Backrow: – Performance in the 7 and 8 positions will depend a lot on Smith staying healthy and Tawake seizing his chance to be the starting 8 man. Fava was a huge loss. Salvi will be a very good backrower one day, and his goal-kicking will be a bonus, but at 20 y.o. is still a bit lightweight to be a 6 or 8, and he is not a specialist fetcher either. Daniel Heenan will be a good acquisition at 6, but only if he stays healthy, which is unlikely given his history.

Flyhalf depth: – If Larkham is injured again the ACT will have to kiss goodbye to any chance of making the finals. Giteau wasn’t a great flyhalf replacement for either the Brumbies or Oz last year when Larkham was unavailable, and his impact as inside centre was missed when he had to play 10, also. Moreover, promising utility Sam Norton-Knight, who was a natural flyhalf reserve and played there for Oz A, defected to NSW. Third stringers, Fairbanks and Phibbs, do not inspire confidence as flyhalves.

Leadership: – Forward leadership without Fava and Finegan will be a problem as Paul, Young and Smith are not natural leaders.

Aging team: – Gregan, Larkham and Young play in key positions but are on the wrong side of 30. Also Paul’s body is older than its nearly 29 years.

Arguably, they are a fair chance to win all 7 games at home if they stay healthy and play like in the good old days. They would be favoured to win in Cape Town and Perth also.

Are the Brumbies still the old Brumbies? Will they stay healthy enough to answer the question?

Look out for
Luke Burgess to shine if Gregan is injured or rested. The kid couldn’t get into the Joeys 1st XV but he can play now.

Despite their good draw, the inevitable annual injuries to Larkham and Mortlock will have their effect as will the absence of Finegan and Fava. 6th
A good chance to win in CT?

This is a team that lost to the Cats at Ellis in 2004?

Ja right.
I must say these guys seems not to be too biased.

But like you say win in CT will maybe not so easy if the Stormers can hit the ground running. Same with all the other SA teams. If they get a good start we will do great
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