Rugby Union


Brumbies desperate to avoid repeat

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Prop Ben Alexander admitted the ACT Brumbies didn't pay the Melbourne Rebels enough respect last year but has vowed they won't make the same mistake again at AAMI Stadium on Friday night.

But Alexander said they weren't the only team to take the Rebels lightly.

He pointed to Melbourne's 28-19 victory over the Canterbury Crusaders and a narrow six-point loss to the Pretoria Bulls as examples of other teams falling into the same trap.

It was something the Wallabies prop was keen to avoid happening again - especially given what happened last year.

The Brumbies travelled to Melbourne to face a Rebels outfit supposedly reeling from a 43-0 loss to the NSW Waratahs in their Super Rugby debut game.

It was meant to be an easy win for the visitors but they sensationally lost 25-24 to give the Rebels their inaugural win and Brumbies coach Andy Friend was sacked as a result.


With a hint of Groundhog Day, the Brumbies return to Melbourne on the back of the Rebels' 42-point loss to the Wellington Hurricanes.

''Sides have been underestimating them and look what happened last year. The [NSW] Waratahs beat them, we may have not treated the game with the respect that it deserved last year,'' Alexander said.

''Especially in Melbourne they're a very tough side to beat and they beat us. We'll, as an organisation, learn those lessons and make sure we put our best foot forward and treat the game with the respect it deserves.''

Saturday's heartbreaking one-point loss to Queensland means the Reds are now breathing down the Brumbies' neck in the Australian conference.

The Reds' bye this week means the Brumbies must win to maintain their five-point advantage on the Australian conference ladder.

''We need to win to keep that little buffer at the top of the conference because I can't see them [Reds] losing another game this year [they play the Rebels, Otago Highlanders and Waratahs],'' Alexander said.

''It's up to us, our destiny is in our own hands, we just need to keep winning,''

Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White didn't play in last year's loss at AAMI Park. But he was part of the squad and admitted complacency had been a problem leading into the trip south.

While admitting to being nervous about the return bout, he said coach Jake White had removed any chance of a similar attitude problem this time around.

''After [Melbourne had] such a big loss last year … a lot of the boys went down there thinking the same would happen and it'd be gifted [to us], but Jake's certainly let us know that no game is ever going to be gifted to us and certainly not this week with the Rebels,'' White said.

''They're not going to give us anything, we've got to work hard for it and that's what we're going to do.''

Meanwhile, the Rebels may be forced to scour club ranks to find fit bodies after suffering injuries to three key backs - flyhalf Kurtley Beale (shoulder), winger Mark Gerrard (sternum) and centre Lachlan Mitchell (concussion/neck) - in their thumping by the Hurricanes.

Centre Lloyd Johansson also suffered a compound fracture of his little finger during training, while first-choice No.10 Danny Cipriani left the club last month to return to England.

Melbourne coach Damien Hill said James Hilgendorf would now take over the play-making duties.

He admitted to searching for players outside the Rebels squad, from the Brisbane, Sydney and possibly Melbourne rugby competitions, to fill the injury void.

''We're looking at a couple of young guys at the moment possibly for centre coverage and for the back three coverage, but we won't know too much about that until we see what happens with Mark [Gerrard],'' he said.

Gerrard is still an outside chance to play dependent on a CT scan on his sternum and his recovery this week. with AAP


Super Rugby round 15: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7.40pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.