JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

African connection cooks up plot to put Brumbies on top

Brumbies players Ruan Smith, Ian Prior, Etienne Oosthuizen, Stephan Van Der Watt and Mark Swanepoel enjoy a barbecue on Saturday.

Brumbies players Ruan Smith, Ian Prior, Etienne Oosthuizen, Stephan Van Der Watt and Mark Swanepoel enjoy a barbecue on Saturday. Photo: Colleen Petch

IT'S HARDLY a traditional braai and there's no springbok on the menu, but a small balcony in Lyneham is where the ''African National Congress'' meets to lay the foundation for ACT Brumbies success.

And if halfback Ian Prior gets his way, biltong - an African version of beef jerky - will become a regular on the Brumbies' menu as the club attempts to end its finals drought.

The Brumbies boast an African connection unmatched by any team in Australia or New Zealand.

With coach Jake White leading the charge, he's recruited seven players with African heritage. Teammates have dubbed them the ''African National Congress''.

Once a week they meet for a braai - a barbecue - at the home of Ruan Smith and Etienne Oosthuizen.

For them, it's a home away from home where they can speak Afrikaans and settle into life in Canberra.

Prior has his own biltong machine and is testing some samples to see if athletic performance director Dean Benton will allow it in the Brumbies' kitchen.

It might seem strange. But Smith insists it is fast-tracking the bond within the team and easing any homesickness.

''It definitely makes you feel like you're at home,'' Smith said.

''Maybe we'll get Jake around sometime as well … this is definitely helping settle into Canberra.

''We don't mind if they call us the South African Brumbies … there's heaps of different cultures in the team so it can't hurt having a South African flavour.''

Smith, Oosthuizen, Clyde Rathbone, Stephan Van Der Walt and Mark Swanepoel all have South African heritage while Prior and David Pocock grew up in Zimbabwe.

When White took over last season he implemented a game style which drew comparisons to South Africa's Super Rugby teams.

Some have even dubbed the team the ''Biltong Brumbies''.

But that doesn't faze the latest batch of recruits. While they have African heritage, all qualify to play for Australia and do not fill the Brumbies' foreign player spots.

''There's the 'Community' of Islander players and they called us the 'African National Congress' and then there's the Aussies in the team,'' Smith said.

''It's a little rivalry in the way … we haven't taken each other on at the moment but when the season starts up it will be much more competitive.''

The biggest problem they face is staying fit after a braai and some biltong.

Prior is in his second year with the Brumbies.

He grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to Brisbane before joining the Brumbies.

''I think the only way Ruan knows how to cook is on the barbecue,'' Prior said.

''The numbers of Africans have really skyrocketed this year. Our clique isn't as strong as the 'Community'. But we get on well, have a lot in common and can chat about anything.

''My dad made me a biltong machine and when I get Dean's approval, hopefully we can get all the boys on it, but I'll test it on myself first. I don't want to make anyone sick.''

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
Featured advertisers