ACT Brumbies set to stick with expansive game
There is no question of the ACT Brumbies reverting to a more conservative game when they meet the New South Wales Waratahs tomorrow with a place in the Super Rugby final on the line, director of rugby Laurie Fisher said today.
The Brumbies reached the final last year under South Africa Jake White with a gameplan that put the emphasis on field position and defensive strength, a style the twice-champions continued to use for much of this season.
In the final match of the regular season against the Western Force and last week's playoff against the defending champion Waikato Chiefs, however, they unleashed a more expansive game and racked up 11 tries in two impressive victories.
A match against the most offensive team in the competition at Sydney Football Stadium tomorrow with a final against the Canterbury Crusaders or South Africa's Sharks up for grabs was no time to put away the big guns, Fisher said.
''We're not going out there to try and win 6-3, it's not going to happen,'' he told reporters at the team hotel.
''Our mindset needs to be, we've had the weaponry all year, we've had the skillset all year, it's there in the armoury, let's get it out and have a crack.
''You may as well put it on show because if you don't, you're not coming back next week.''
Having beaten the Waratahs 28-23 at home early in March, the Brumbies were confident when they arrived in Sydney for their last encounter with their fierce rivals in late June only to concede five tries in a 39-8 humbling.
They had learned their lessons from that painful defeat, Fisher said, and a large part of the lesson was how dangerous it was to let a team like the Waratahs have so much ball.
''Our intention is to make them make tackles, I think last time we attempted 225 tackles, they attempted 128 tackles. I'd love to reverse that stat and let's see who's running at the end of the game,'' he said.
''We can't just say, 'ah, it's all just too hard, we'll give them the pill [ball]', it's just not going to work for us. We've got to get the balance right.
''Sometimes, you've got to put ball down, back your kick chase, back your tackle, back your contest.
''Other times, you've got roll up your sleeves, hold onto the ball, eke out a few yards, find out where the space is and make them work for a little while.''
Fisher, who is leaving for English club Gloucester at the end of the season, said the Brumbies had drawn huge self-belief from last year's run to final, which included a semi-final victory over the three-times champion Bulls in Pretoria.
''We have to be our best, but we know we're good enough,'' he said.
''You go into a game, it doesn't matter who we're playing, we know we can win. We just have to be very, very good to give ourselves a chance.''