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Brumbies twins double trouble for Lions

Identical twins Ruan and JP Smith will play together for the Brumbies on Tuesday night.

Identical twins Ruan and JP Smith will play together for the Brumbies on Tuesday night. Photo: Rohan Thomson

ACT Brumbies coach Jake White can tell them apart by looking at a broken nose while their teammates are enforcing a rule that one of the Smith brothers must always have shaggy hair.

Now Ruan and Jean-Pierre Smith are on a mission to send the British and Irish Lions into a twin spin at Canberra Stadium on Tuesday night when they combine in a dream Brumbies call-up.

The two South African-born props are set to team up in the Brumbies' front row for the first time as the ACT side searches for a historic win against the Lions.

Sure, their experience totals just six Super Rugby games - all Ruan's - and the Lions boast the best set-piece exponents in the world.

But the Smiths say their secret weapon is confusion. No one can tell them apart. They were born three minutes apart, play in the same position and even answer to each other's name.

''Our coaches in Brisbane used to say, 'I don't know which brother you are, but one of you did a good job','' Jean-Pierre said.

''People call me [Ruan's] shadow because we're always together. We don't plan to do it, but it's just the way we are. I used to grow my hair longer so they'd know which one I was … now down at the Brumbies I've got to keep it that way.

''A lot of props get confused when they look at us in a scrum … Two months ago I never thought I would be here, words can't describe how I'm feeling.''

Spare a thought for hooker Siliva Siliva when he packs down between the identical brothers against the Lions.

Siliva has never played with twins before. He admits he's confused when they prop up under his arms.

''Telling them apart is one of the toughest things for me in the game … the only way you can tell is their hair,'' Siliva said.

''The Lions will definitely get confused. We do at the Brumbies, so they definitely will.''

Prop Scott Sio will return from Wallabies camp, but Dan Palmer is battling a foot injury and it is unclear whether he will play.

If Palmer is out, it is likely White will call on a club rugby front-rower from Easts to fill the void as the fourth prop on the bench.

Ruan is in his first year at the Brumbies after starting an extended player squad contract.

Jean-Pierre moved to the capital only recently and will take Ruan's extended player squad contract next season when his brother is upgraded to a full-time deal.

The 23-year-old Smith brothers do everything together. Jean-Pierre has been staying on the foldout bed at Ruan's place since arriving in Canberra and they regularly cook up a ''braai'' - a South African barbecue - with housemate Etienne Oosthuizen.

While Ruan has been a front-rower his entire career, loosehead prop Jean-Pierre flirted with a move to the back row before rekindling the family partnership.

Tighthead prop Ruan earned praise for his barnstorming performance against the Melbourne Rebels on June 7 and commentators described him as a ''runaway bull'' as he trampled over defenders.

He is 188 centimetres and 119 kilograms, giving him a slight edge over older brother Jean-Pierre (185 centimetres and 115 kilograms).

Because their family moved to Brisbane in 2010, they are eligible to qualify as Australian players.

Ruan has the rare achievement of representing two countries at schoolboy rugby level - Australia and South Africa in consecutive years.

''I didn't think I'd play any games this year let alone a chance to play against the Lions,'' Ruan said.

''I've played all my rugby with JP. All the way from primary school to senior rugby. It doesn't matter if our teammates yell out 'JP', I automatically look because I think they're talking to me.

''When Jake told me JP was going to come to Canberra … it made everything easier because we've been together our whole life. I missed home a lot, but with him here it's easier.

''A lot of people think we're competitive, the [teammates] always joke who's better looking but we've always got a comeback.''

The duo cut their teeth and one of the most successful rugby schools in South Africa, Paarl Gimnasium, the same school that produced Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger.

White has a soft spot for the pair. He watched them grow through the junior ranks in Cape Town and one of the first things he did when he arrived was ring Ruan.

''I've known them from school. The day he became Aussie-eligible we chatted and Ruan joined us. Who would have thought they'd be playing against the Lions?'' White said.

''It's a great success story for both of them. This is what they always would have dreamt about in South Africa.

''Yep, I can tell them apart. One has a broken nose … if you look carefully, JP's nose is a bit crooked. But if they put caps on you wouldn't know the difference.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 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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