Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham: We're good enough to beat Hurricanes
ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham says his men are good enough to knock off the team he considers the best side in New Zealand.
The Hurricanes are Super Rugby's best team in almost every measurable category and their title defence in the finals begins when they face the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night.
If statistics and recent performances are anything to go by the signs look ominous for the Brumbies who will have to break the Hurricanes' 435-day unbeaten run against foreign opposition.
The Hurricanes lead the competition in points scored, tries scored and clean breaks, while they sit third in metres gained and defenders beaten. They also set the benchmark in defence having conceded the fewest points this season.
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Larkham admitted he would have preferred different opposition, but said the preparation remains the same.
"It would have be nice to play the Chiefs, we've got a really good feel for how they play the game so it would have been nice to back up and play them but now the challenge is the Hurricanes," Larkham said.
"They have been a little bit more consistent this year and I'd say are now the top New Zealand side now after knocking off the Crusaders last week who were unbeaten.
"Across their team you look at not just the All Blacks, but the players who haven't necessarily played for the All Blacks yet and they're all quality players. That's the reason why they're pretty much first in all the stats and beat an undefeated team on the weekend, they're a quality side, we know that and we've been prepping for this for a while," Larkham said.
The Brumbies haven't beaten Kiwi opposition since round one last year, a string of 10 games which included a loss to the Hurricanes in April after leaking 42 second-half points to be thumped 56-21.
"The score blew out in that one but we've had good results against the Hurricanes in recent years, particular the first game of the season last year when we put some points on them," Larkham said.
"They have great attacking stats, they're the best defensive team in terms of points scored against them but we're second best, they've got us by about 10 points.
"Both teams pride themselves in defence then the challenge for us to make sure when wet those opportunities in attack that we take them because we know the Hurricanes are very good at doing that."
Australian sides lost all 25 matches against New Zealand teams this season and have lost a record 31 straight trans-Tasman contests, but Larkham isn't looking at the past.
"It's not about Australia v New Zealand or the record of other Super Rugby teams against New Zealand, it's a game this weekend between the Brumbies and the Hurricanes and the best team will win," Larkham said.
"It's a brand new season now, Benny Alexander summed it up in the change rooms after the game last week, he said everything before us is irrelevant, it comes down to who wins these next couple of games.
"It's do-or-die now the pressure comes on now, irrespective of how you've gone through the season it all comes down to how you play this weekend."
- Canberra Times