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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.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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