Rugby Union


Giants in war of aggression

Fotu Auelua and Ita Vaea have promised to unleash a 229-kilogram Islander tag team of aggression when they get their chance to take on Australia's premier No.8 on Saturday night.

The rapidly developing combination will face its biggest test this season when they go up against Wycliff Palu and the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium.

Palu has been one of the Waratahs' best this year and - when not injured - has been the Wallabies' first-choice No.8 in recent years.

Few can match Palu's aggression and power ball running.

But Auelua has fast established himself as one of the most feared players in the competition with his brutal defence and devastating runs.

When the 121kg Samoan gets tired, the Brumbies inject 108kg Tongan powerhouse Vaea to finish the opposition off and the scariest thing is Auelua says they're yet to reach their best as wrecking-ball partners.


Palu is 118kg and will be forced to deal with a constant onslaught from his two Islander opponents.

The Wallabies veteran was one of Auelua's ''idols'' when the Brumbies recruit was in the Waratahs Academy in 2006.

Auelua, 28, has tried to mould his game around Palu's and he has had an immediate impact in his three Super Rugby games.

He made some bone-crunching tackles against the Johannesburg Lions and sent defenders flying backwards when he ran the ball.

''Whether it's Ita starting or me on the bench, it doesn't bother me and I think we're going well,'' Auelua said.

''I think it's something we can make even better and the impact Ita brings into the game is enormous.

''We're similar in some areas, Ita reads the game well and is good on the ball, that's something I have to improve on.

''Cliffy is still No.1 in Australia in my eyes so it's going to be an awesome experience going up against him.''

Brumbies coach Jake White will name his team tomorrow for the grudge match against their arch-rivals.

It is likely White will name a relatively unchanged line-up with skipper Ben Mowen coming back from injury and Sam Carter a chance to return to the starting XV.

Vaea - who is poised to sign a new deal to remain in Canberra - is in his second Super Rugby campaign.

He burst on to the scene last year as a rookie and his aggressive style drew comparisons with Wallabies great Toutai Kefu. But with Ben Mowen and Auelua also capable of filling the No.8 duties, Vaea has taken on a different role this year.

When he came off the bench against the Pretoria Bulls two weeks ago, he caused havoc and had a major hand in the Brumbies' three second-half tries.

The 23-year-old is keen to take on a bigger workload but says he's happy biding his time as an impact player.

''I think my form has been consistent coming off the bench and Fotu is a good player too,'' Vaea said.

''We always talk to each other to give feedback so we're both working hard … I'm enjoying the second half and trying to give the boys some momentum.

''I try to wake them up when they're tired so I try to be a spark so we can go for the full 80 minutes.

''Absolutely I feel more comfortable, last year was a good experience and this year I know what my job is and what I have to do around the field.''