Brumbies ready to crock and roll
Scott Fardy, who had off-season shoulder surgery, trains on Thursday. Photo: Melissa Adams
''Team Rehab'' is bulging with star power but the ACT Brumbies are adamant their walking wounded will not disrupt their pre-season as forwards coach Laurie Fisher plans to turn the team into a physically imposing outfit.
The Brumbies started training this week for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign with 12 players on limited duties and four about to leave for Europe to tour with the Wallabies.
It's a contrast to when Jake White took over the club for the first time with almost all of his players available for the full pre-season 12 months ago.
Sam Carter at Brumbies training on Thursday. Photo: Melissa Adams
Most of the injured players are due to return to full-contact training before the Christmas break with only half-back Nic White racing to be fit for the opening round of the season on February 16.
But while nine regular starting XV players from last season form ''Team Rehab'', Fisher is confident their absence will not halt the momentum of his team.
''It's about putting your bum down and your head up and making as much progress as you can, that goes across the whole squad,'' the former head coach said.
''There are improvements we need to make … we're a little bit limited in what we can do but it's important to lay a good base over the next two or three weeks. The attitude is fantastic, we've just got to grow our game and rip in.''
Playmaking duo Christian Lealiifano (ankle and shoulder) and Matt Toomua (knee) are on track for their respective returns from major season-ending surgery.
Joseph Tomane is recovering well from ankle surgery while White, Scott Fardy and Sam Carter had shoulder operations.
White, Fardy and Carter played most of last season through pain knowing they would need surgery when the Brumbies were knocked out of championship contention.
All three had breakout Super Rugby campaigns in their first full year as professional players.
If White is not ready to start the season, Mark Swanepoel, recruited to the extended squad, will get his Super Rugby chance.
Fardy and Carter formed a strong second-row combination and underwent the same operation on their left shoulders. The pair live together, have recovered together and hope to continue their ''bromance'' as the Brumbies' locks next year.
And while having a chunk of the squad on limited training duties is not ideal, Carter said there was healthy competition among the rehabilitating players to be the first to recover.
''We're still doing a lot of skills and we're going to ramp up the contact in the New Year,'' Carter, who played all but one game last season, said.
''You see guys trickling back into the squad and they're becoming 100 per cent.
''Scott had the same injury on the same shoulder so we've been on the same program.
''We're always challenging each other to get better and who's got the better shoulder … I think we're dead even at the moment.''
The 28-year-old Fardy was one of the Brumbies' most impressive in his debut campaign.
He was an unknown in the squad as an extended player squad member, but developed into one of the most consistent performers.
''I know I have to keep working and my workrate will be tested,'' Fardy said. ''I'm definitely a lot more comfortable here and with my surroundings this year.''