Rugby Union

Brumbies refusing to get drawn into Waratahs' breakdown mind games

ACT Brumbies back-rower Jarrad Butler is refusing to get drawn into the NSW Waratahs' mind games over their attack on the breakdown and says it's an important part of their game and they'll continue to be aggressive in it.

Butler adds they will go into the big clash at Canberra Stadium on Friday night as underdogs after winning only one of their last six encounters with the Waratahs.

Brumbies flanker Jarrad Butler isn't getting involved with the Waratahs in any mind games about the breakdown.
Brumbies flanker Jarrad Butler isn't getting involved with the Waratahs in any mind games about the breakdown. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said the breakdown would be "heavily scrutinised" after a "number of penalties" were given in the opening round of Super Rugby last weekend.

Referee Andrew Lees repeatedly warned the Brumbies, and Wallabies gun David Pocock in particular, about their attack on the breakdown and ended up sending both Pocock and Matt Toomua to the sin bin in the second half.

Butler said every referee interpreted the rules differently and they would work to ensure they kept 15 players on the park.

The Waratahs have a history of trying to start a war of words against the Brumbies and former coach Michael Cheika is a master of the art.


But Butler said he wouldn't be getting involved in the lead-up to a clash that would give one of the two teams expected to win the Australian conference an early advantage in the race to the finals.

"Not from me," he laughed when asked about the mind games.

"Different refs have their own interpretations. One time you might get away with it, other times you may not, and [Pocock] is the best in the world at getting on the ball.

"We're not going to change anything, we're going to put pressure on the breakdown when we can because that's a big part of the Brumbies' style of play."

The Brumbies are hoping to get more than 20,000 fans to Canberra Stadium on Friday and will donate $20,000 to the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, for which co-captain Christian Lealiifano is an ambassador, if they reach their goal.

They had a similar initiative for their qualifying final against the Waikato Chiefs in 2014.

The Waratahs have had the edge over the Brumbies in recent seasons, winning their last four encounters and five of their last six.

That run of outs includes the Brumbies' semi-final loss to the Waratahs in Sydney in 2014.

Both teams started the season with big wins: the Waratahs beating the Queensland Reds, while the Brumbies blew away last year's grand finalist, the Wellington Hurricanes.

Despite that impressive start, Butler said the recent record between the two sides meant NSW were the favourites.

"They've had really good success against us in the past two years so we're kind of going in as underdogs and just wanting to hopefully get a really good crowd," he said.

"We got a good crowd last week and I think they really enjoyed the way we played. It was a bit more expansive, and hopefully that leads to a few more people coming out."

Butler will earn his 50th Super Rugby cap during the Waratahs clash after playing 12 games for the Reds before moving south to join the Brumbies in 2014.

He took advantage of Pocock's knee injury in his first season in Canberra, winning the Brett Robinson Award as the player's player.

Since then he's played more of a supporting role and came off the bench to replace Ita Vaea at No.8 against the Hurricanes.

"Ita's been playing really, really good footy and he's so damaging with the way he carries," Butler said.

"At the moment I'm just really enjoying getting the opportunity to come on wherever I can and fill in and keep the momentum going.

"I think all the reserves came on and kept the intensity up and finished off the game really well."


Friday: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

* Lifeline will auction a corporate box to the Brumbies-Waratahs match this week, offering $500 worth of catering, a signed jersey and a boardroom lunch with Lifeline board member Stephen Moore going to the winning bidder. Details at

* Brumbies trio Henry Speight,Tevita Kuridrani and co-captain Stephen Moore will auction their jerseys from the round-one win, with money raised going to Fiji to help the clean-up after Cyclone Winston. All details are at