Brumbies loose forward Jarrad Butler has a top mentor in Wallabies star David Pocock.
Wellington-born Butler, who transferred to Canberra this season after making his Super Rugby debut for the Reds in 2012, will look to put the lessons from one of the world's premier exponents at the breakdown to good use in Friday night's clash with the Blues at Canberra Stadium.
The 22-year-old had only a handful of Super Rugby caps to his name before he left Brisbane in the off-season in search of greater opportunities with the Brumbies.
His promotion to last year's runners-up came earlier than expected after the season-ending knee injury to the Wallabies openside flanker during the second-round win over the Western Force in Perth.
Butler, who says he prefers blindside flank or No 8, has done a solid job in the No 7 jersey in Pocock's absence and credits regular sessions with the injury-plagued former Wallaby captain as being the key to speeding up his development.
"He's been really good. I get weekly reviews telling me what I did right and wrong," Butler said.
"Especially just the breakdown stuff and identifying rucks, he's one of the best in the world at it.
"To be able to talk to him about it has been invaluable."
Brumbies' director of rugby Laurie Fisher and injured Wellington-born loose forward Fotu Auelua have also been giving Butler pointers.
"All the senior guys are really easy to talk to. If you have an issue, you can go up to them and get their thoughts," Butler said.
"They're always keen to look at some footage they may have cut up."
Butler, who moved to Queensland's Gold Coast with mother Reay when he was 13, is a potential successor to France-bound No 8 Ben Mowen, the Wallabies and Brumbies skipper, but is happy to occupy any of the back-row positions.
"I'm happy to get the opportunity, but obviously the circumstances aren't the best," he said.
"It was great to play with a guy like David at the start of the season because he's a huge asset to the team."
The Brumbies had a shock 32-24 loss to the Melbourne Rebels last Friday night.
It was just their second defeat from the first six games and ended a four-game winning streak that lifted them to the top of the Australian conference.
The Brumbies now face a crucial fortnight before the bye, hosting the resurgent Blues before an Australian derby with the Reds, who won their opening-round contest in Brisbane.
"The Blues are a really strong team, and like all New Zealand teams they play that expansive brand of footy," Butler said.
"If we can do what we do best, which is put pressure on them, then I think we can get the result."
- Canberra Times
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