The ACT Brumbies will not be increasing their high-performance budget despite signing a record major sponsorship deal with Aquis, as the Super Rugby franchise looks to minimise its expected losses this year.
In an attempt to ensure there is not a repeat of last year's shock away loss to the Melbourne Rebels, forwards coach Dan McKellar said the Brumbies this Saturday needed to neutralise a vocal home crowd early.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has cut $100,000 from his high-performance budget, partly by leaving for away games a day later than they had in the past – a move that brings the club in line with the rest of the competition.
Chief executive Michael Jones said the six-year, $8 million deal with Aquis would not open the way for a reversal of that cut in spending.
But he emphasised the Brumbies were not going without anything they needed.
They looked into whether leaving a day earlier had any benefits and had not found any.
Jones has said from the minute he took over the chief executive role, the Brumbies would have another loss this financial year, on top of the $1.07 million deficit they had last year.
But he was working to minimise that before pushing to record a profit next year.
"We're forecasting a big loss this year and I'm trying to get that back into black ink," Jones said.
"I don't want to waste any cash that provides us with surety and security going forward, so any dollar I save that comes off the loss number.
"I don't think our high-performance unit is wanting for many things and we're still the best high-performance unit in the country as far as resources and skill levels [are concerned].
"We don't need to throw any extra profitability back into there at the moment."
Last year the Brumbies led the Rebels 17-6 with 30 minutes remaining in Melbourne, before being overrun to eventually lose 32-24.
The Brumbies have lost two of their four games in Victoria since the Rebels joined Super Rugby, which includes their 25-24 loss in 2011 – a loss that was the precursor to the club's worst season.
McKellar said they would not watch last year's game and would instead focus on a fast start.
"In that stadium the crowd can get them going – even with 10 or 11,000 at that stadium it's noisy, that's for sure. It's a really good atmosphere," he said.
"It's just about making sure we show up with a good attitude and try and get some points on the board early and take the crowd out of it."
Brumbies No.8 Fotu Auelua is expected to return to full training next week after undergoing knee surgery in the pre-season, with a possible return as early as round four against the Western Force at Canberra Stadium.
"If he's full training next week, he'll need a full week of training, get some game time on board and hopefully in the next couple of weeks he's available," McKellar said.
"Hopefully he'd be available for selection around round four or five."
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Melbourne, 7.40pm.
TV time: live on Fox Sports 2.