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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 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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