Australian team of the week - May 21
Greg Growden picks the form team from the Australian conference after the weekend’s matches. Number of times selected in brackets. Photo: Getty Images
They face the prospect of losing their ruck specialist Michael Hooper but Laurie Fisher says the ACT Brumbies need to lift their aggression at the breakdown to beat the Queensland Reds on Saturday night.
The Brumbies will find out tonight whether Hooper is free to take his place in an intense forwards battle against the defending Super Rugby champion at Canberra Stadium.
The star No.7 is facing suspension after SANZAR deemed his lifting tackle on Victor Vito last Friday night was worthy of a red card.
But irrespective of whether Hooper is available for selection, forwards coach Fisher said the Brumbies needed to muscle up to redeem themselves after a woeful display against the Reds last month.
The Reds forced 27 turnovers when they beat the Brumbies 20-13 at Suncorp Stadium. At the time, Fisher said it was unacceptable and the players needed to ''man up''.
He's confident the team has learnt from its mistakes and will not suffer a similar fate in the derby contest.
''The Reds force the most turnovers, they slow the most ball down and they're the kings of putting pressure on your breakdown,'' Fisher said.
''Their entire team is hard on the ball … they threaten the ball from [position] one to 15 so that means everyone has to do their job.
''We've certainly learnt how the Reds go about it and we've learnt the lesson of supplying more numbers early with more aggression.
''It's a simple game, you've just got to get in hard with numbers and you'll be OK.''
Colby Faingaa looms as the most likely replacement if Hooper is suspended. Ita Vaea can also play at openside flanker, but the Brumbies will need another specialist ball-fetcher to counter the Reds' ability to slow the ball down at the ruck.
Brumbies scrumhalf and former Queensland No.9 Ian Prior said the simplicity of the team's game plan was helping it keep its place at the top of the Australian conference.
The young Brumbies have overcome every challenge put before them and the squad is aware of the importance of a win against the Reds.
Prior had seven stitches above his eye after the Brumbies beat the Wellington Hurricanes on Friday night, but he will be fit to continue his battle for the No.9 guernsey with Nic White.
''This is the biggest challenge so far … the nice thing is last time we played [the Reds], we didn't play well,'' Prior said. ''We haven't been trying anything too extravagant and that seems to be working for us.
''Now it's just about making the wrongs right from last time we played them … no one was happy with that performance and we're looking forward to having a crack at the champions.''