Rugby Union


Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani key to Brumbies attack, says Henry Speight

Flying Fijian Henry Speight hopes the ACT Brumbies' back line can deliver more fireworks at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, and has heaped praise on hard-working centres Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani for unlocking the team's attacking genius.

The Brumbies broke the try-scoring shackles with a superb performance against the Western Force last weekend, scoring seven tries to secure their place in the Super Rugby play-offs. But former Waikato provincial player Speight has warned the Brumbies to expect the Chiefs to unleash their own weapons when they clash in a grand-final rematch in the first week of the finals.

Speight was outstanding against the Force and is pressing his claims for an immediate Wallabies call-up when he becomes eligible to play for Australia in September.

However, Speight said Lealiifano and Kuridrani were the keys to the Brumbies' attacking success, despite the centre pair failing to score last weekend.

"The attack has taken a turn for the best, especially last weekend, and it couldn't have come at a better time," Speight said. "Nic White is having the best season he's had, Matt Toomua's played out of his skin. But what doesn't get mentioned or noticed is the work Christian and Tevita do.

"They're the big reason why Matt Toomua can play his own game and free Nic White up is because they lay the foundation and the confidence comes from there. It's really exciting times."


The Brumbies will make minimal changes to their line-up for the clash against the Chiefs when coaches Stephen Larkham and Laurie FIsher name their team on Thursday.

Clyde Rathbone has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, but is expected to be fit if the Brumbies' progress to the next stage of the finals.

Robbie Coleman looms as the one to replace Rathbone in the starting side, while Wallabies speedster Joseph Tomane stays on the bench for some second-half impact.

Prop Jean-Pierre Smith has been ruled out with a knee injury, opening the door for Allan Alaalatoa to make his Super Rugby debut from the bench.

Larkham is waiting to see how Coleman pulls up from training before finalising the back line.

But he singled out Lealiifano and Kuridrani for their "tireless work running through brick walls" as the Brumbies chase their championship aspirations.

"We need to put the one percenters together so guys like Henry, [Jesse Mogg] and the back line get space, and that's because Christian and Tevita punch holes in brick walls," Larkham said. "I think the whole team clicked in attack, but maybe throughout the year we haven't had the recognition if we're not scoring tries."

Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam said the defending champions "got a bit of a hiding, got a bit embarrassed" when the Brumbies beat them 41-23 on Anzac Day. But the Chiefs were missing co-skipper Aaron Cruden, halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and openside flanker Tanerau Latimer.

‘‘We’ve gone through a lot of hard times as a team,’’ he said. ‘‘But I’m really confident that those hard times have made us stronger as a unit and as a family."

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is hopeful hooker Mahonri Schwalger, who is carrying a shoulder injury, will be available.