Rugby Union


Brumbies playmaker Wharenui Hawera says confidence key to ending try drought

Where will the tries come from? That's the question ACT Brumbies fans are asking as the team endures its longest try-scoring drought in 10 years.

But rookie playmaker Wharenui Hawera is adamant they won't abandon an attacking mindset despite failing to cross the line in the past 210 minutes of Super Rugby action.

The Brumbies need to beat the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning Australian time if they want to reinvigorate their stuttering season.

The alarming lack of tries coincides with a Brumbies' form slide, which has led to them losing the past four games in a row.

It's a baffling case given the Brumbies scored 19 tries in their first six games of the year and stamped themselves as the best Australian team.

It's even more baffling when you consider their last try was a stunning length-of-the-field effort against the Wellington Hurricanes a month ago and they've only scored six times since April 15.


The Brumbies' lead in the Australian conference has evaporated to just three points and Hawera admitted self-doubt crept in last weekend.

But the New Zealand-born flyhalf vowed to find a spark to turn things around on his first tour of South Africa.

"It felt like we went back a bit and we were hoping things would fall our way last week," Hawera said.

"It is tough, it really is. Speaking from my point of view, it's tough being one of our playmakers on the field.

"Most of the time you're trying to grab the game by the scruff of the neck so you can win those tight ones. I know we're trying really hard and that's hard when you fall short.

"But we're definitely looking to win these two games on the road to get things back on track. In the back of my head I was maybe thinking about the losses and that maybe affected my confidence.

"I'm definitely learning, we're back to the drawing board and hopefully that translates to a win."

Hawera faces a tough one-on-one battle with Kings playmaker Lionel Cronje, who has been the architect of his team's rise this season.

Cronje, who spent two seasons at the Brumbies, has been called into the Springboks squad and is leading the Kings to through their most successful Super Rugby campaign.

The Port Elizabeth challenge and a two game tour around the world is a massive step for Hawera, who was called into the Brumbies squad this year as a flyhalf replacement for Christian Lealiifano.

"It's my first time to South Africa and then it will be my first time to Argentina [next week] as well," Hawera said.

"I'm excited about that. It's pretty crazy from where I was six months ago. I'm just thankful to have a chance in Super Rugby and be playing.

"It's massive for me and I know it will be awesome, but I know I've got a job to do."

The Brumbies have a three-point lead in the Australian conference and could hold on to top spot even if they lose against the Kings.

But the Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs and Western Force are all waiting for the Brumbies to slip up again to move to the top of the ladder.

The Brumbies have lost five games in a row just twice in the club's rich history and hooker Josh Mann-Rea says they need to take opportunities if they want to avoid an unwanted record.

"I think after a few loses you lose a bit of confidence, go into your shell a bit and start worrying about the scoreboard," Mann-Rea said.

"We've got to stay confident and back our skills because we know we've got them. We're creating the opportunities, it's just we're not seeing them or taking them out there.

"That's pretty frustrating, but it's also something we can turn around pretty quickly."


Sunday: Southern Kings v ACT Brumbies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 3.30am (AEST). TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

Brumbies team: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Aidan Toua, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jordan Smiler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Andrew Muirhead, 23. Andrew Smith.

Kings team: 15. Chrysander Botha, 14. Alshaun Bock, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Luzuko Vulindlum, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Andisa Ntsila, 7. Tyler Paul, 6. Stefan Willemse, 5. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4. Irne Herbst, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 2. Martin Bezuidenhout, 1. Schalk van der Merwe. Reserves: 16. Kurt Haupt, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Mzwanele Zito, 20. Thembelani Bholi, 21. Johan Steyn, 22. Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23. Nicolaas Hanekom