Brumbies call on fans to help beat Reds
Edward Murphy (4) from Isabella Plains has his face painted at the Brumbies' meet the players day on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The ACT Brumbies want revenge on the Queensland Reds and coach Jake White says his team needs to turn Canberra Stadium into a graveyard for its opponents.
The Brumbies begin their bid to break their eight-season finals drought when they take on the Reds in the capital on Saturday night.
Queensland was the only Australian team to beat the Brumbies last year and stole a spot in the play-offs when the ACT choked in the last game.
Brumbies fans line up for autographs on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
But White was confident his team has transformed into one capable of redemption in the opening round. And he wants 20,000 fans at Canberra Stadium for a ‘‘fortress’’.
‘‘A lot of South Africans talk about how intimidating Canberra Stadium used to be and in a way I’m begging for it to return to being that way for teams,’’ White said.
‘‘We need the fans to come back and to have a hostile environment.
Brumbies coach Jake White wants to see a big crowd on Saturday. Photo: Colleen Petch
‘‘This is the game we wanted to play last year, this game is eight months overdue. We wanted to play the Reds at Canberra Stadium [in the finals].’’
The Brumbies broke long-standing records when they travelled to New Zealand and South Africa last season.
They had their most successful two-game trip of South Africa in almost a decade.
Despite losing to eventual champions the Waikato Chiefs in Tauranga, they became the first Brumbies team to win in Wellington in nine seasons.
But while their road record improved, they lost crucial matches at Canberra Stadium which cost them a spot in the finals.
They lost to the Durban Sharks, the Reds and the last-round disaster against the Auckland Blues.
The 13-12 loss to the Reds in May was heart-breaking, with Zack Holmes missing a penalty shot after the siren.
It was Peter Kimlin’s 50th Super Rugby game when the Brumbies went to Brisbane earlier in the season and he was keen to get some payback.
‘‘Obviously we weren’t happy with the way we played against the Reds last year, both in Brisbane and especially the game down here,’’ he said.
‘‘...All pre-season we’ve been talking about the first game and playing the Reds and it’s finally here.
‘‘Six weeks ago we were like, ‘In six weeks we’ll be playing at that stadium’ when we were training at AIS.
‘‘It’s come around quickly and the team’s looking pretty good coming out of the three trials.’’
Kimlin is off contract at the end of the season and is unsure where he’ll play next.
Europe and Japan are both options, with the 27-year-old hoping to have his future decided within ‘‘the next few weeks’’.
He didn’t rule out a move to the ‘‘French Brumbies’’, Grenoble, where former Brumbies Ben Hand, Anthony Hegarty and Henry Vanderglas have all established themselves.
Fellow forward Dan Palmer is also off to the French club at the end of the season.
‘‘I’ve been looking overseas at this stage. I haven’t had much love from the ARU, which is to be expected, so at this stage just tossing up my options whether to head overseas or stay here ... obviously France and Japan’s an option,’’ Kimlin said.
The Brumbies and Reds finished equal with 58 points on the ladder last year, but Queensland clinched the guaranteed finals spot in the Australian conference because they had one more win.
‘‘Every conference game is important and especially the home games, that’s why we need a big crowd and I’m begging them to make it intimidating for the Reds,’’ White said.
‘‘It shows how close we are, I’m hoping with a bigger crowd and an intimidating voice, that it will carry us.
‘‘We want Canberra into a fortress, but we need the help of the supporters and that’s important to me.’’