Rugby Union


Fisher plots repeat of Brumbies' last win in Pretoria

The ACT Brumbies need to find the perfect mix of discipline and aggression to topple the Pretoria Bulls at home for the first time in six years, forwards coach Laurie Fisher says.

Fisher was the last head coach to engineer a Brumbies victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria when he was in charge in 2006.

His side clinched a 27-21 triumph when Stirling Mortlock scored a match-winning try in injury time to secure the win.

Six years on and with a new role, Fisher returns to one of the most feared venues in Super Rugby, confident the young Brumbies will not crumble under the pressure.

The Brumbies are at the top of the Australian conference, but half of the 26-man touring squad is visiting South Africa for the first time.

Fisher warned the players to brace for a hostile reception and said stage fright would not be an excuse.


''It's 80 minutes of footy against 15 blokes, it will be noisy, they're certainly going to hear the crowd and they won't hear nice things being said about them,'' Fisher said.

''I don't think you can prepare for it. They've had exposure to a big crowd [in Queensland], so hopefully they've learned from it.

''You've got to be aggressive and technically sound against the Bulls.

''Discipline is the key at Loftus because if you give away penalties they will put you right under pressure and you have to make sure you have a structured kicking game.''

The Brumbies have spent the past two days in Rustenburg - an hour away from Pretoria - preparing for their clash.

They are staying at the Royal Marang Hotel which was built to host the England soccer team during the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

The team will travel to Pretoria today to finalise preparations for the Sunday morning clash. Coach Jake White will name an unchanged 22-man game-day squad today.

Ben Alexander will be rotated back into the starting XV while Andrew Smith has also reclaimed his place at outside centre. But the coaching staff remains undecided whether to tackle the Bulls with five forwards on the bench.

White will wait until tomorrow's captain's run at the stadium before deciding whether to add lock Leon Power or powerful back Tevita Kuridrani to the bench.

It will be the biggest test of the Brumbies' new era.

They haven't won an overseas match since beating the Cape Town Stormers in South Africa in February 2010.

If they lose to the Bulls, it will be their eighth international loss in a row.

But after an impressive start to the Super Rugby campaign, Fisher had no doubt the Brumbies could shock the Bulls.

The Bulls are three-time Super Rugby champions, but they lost a host of big-name stars after last year's World Cup including Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Fourie du Preez.

Despite their revamped roster, the Bulls are the most dangerous attacking team in the competition.

''Most definitely we can win,'' Fisher enthused.

''We need a good game plan, we can't just go in there and hope.

''If our set piece works well and we can put some pressure on their ball, hopefully we don't burn up too much energy.

''It's about doing the basics well and not inviting them into the game.

''They're an attacking team, but they don't cut you to ribbons.

''They just overpower you and outnumber you and it's not earth-shattering stuff, you just have to stick to the structures.''

Brumbies: 1. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Dan Palmer, 4. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Ben Mowen, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Fotu Auelua, 9. Nic White, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Joseph Tomane, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Andrew Smith, 1 4. Henry Speight, 15. Jesse Mogg.

Reserves: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Ita Vaea, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Tevita Kuridrani/Leon Power.


Super Rugby round nine: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld, 3.10am. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.