Bill Young, left, celebrates the Brumbies' 2004 Super Rugby title with Jeremy Paul. Photo: Simon Alekna
The ACT Brumbies need to beat the Queensland Reds to stamp their authority on the competition and prove they deserve to be Australia's No.1 ranked team, former championship winner Bill Young says.
And captain Ben Mowen has urged his teammates to make ''the hard choices'' at training this week to ensure they make amends for their loss to the defending champion Reds last month.
The Brumbies are preparing for one of the club's biggest games since winning the Super Rugby title in 2004.
Brumby Ita Vaea charges through a gap against the Reds earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images
They hope the blockbuster clash between Australia's top two teams will attract more than 20,000 fans to Canberra Stadium on Saturday night and they're approaching the match like it's a final.
The Brumbies can move a step closer to ending an eight-year finals hiatus if they beat the Reds.
They will still be in the running if they lose, but a Reds triumph will blow the race to the top of the Australian conference wide open with five games remaining in the regular season.
Australian team of the week - May 21
Greg Growden picks the form team from the Australian conference after the weekend’s matches. Number of times selected in brackets. Photo: Getty Images
Young was the Brumbies' loosehead prop when they won their second championship in 2004 and said the team needed to be at their peak to beat the resurgent Reds.
''This is a big game for [the Brumbies], if they're going to push on to the finals and be the No.1 hope for the Australian teams, then they need to stamp their authority against the Reds,'' Young said.
''I certainly think if you're going into a finals series you want to prove that they can beat all of the teams.
''They're doing great and it's great to see them having some success … the Reds used to be our bunnies back in the day but they've turned it around and the Reds are going to be very hungry for this one.
''The Brumbies can't afford to be off their game because if they are, they might be in some strife.''
The Brumbies have traditionally dominated the Reds since the start of Super Rugby.
The Reds have won just once at Canberra Stadium. That match was last year when Quade Cooper booted Queensland to a six-point victory the week after Andy Friend was sacked as Brumbies coach.
A Brumbies loss this weekend will leave the two teams almost level due to the Reds' bye next week.
The Brumbies have a favourable run to the finals, playing just one team in the top 10, while also taking on the Melbourne Rebels, Western Force and Auckland Blues.
Jake White took over at the start of this season and has rebuilt the Brumbies into an outfit capable of beating any team in the competition.
They ended a nine-year losing streak in Wellington when they beat the Hurricanes 37-25 last Friday night and have scored 22 tries in their past five matches.
But the most inexperienced side in the competition is refusing to relax after the strong start to its new era.
''You can hope [things will go this way], but you never know for us,'' Mowen said.
''You get a feeling of what the team is capable of, you can never confirm that but you can hope.
''What we've spoken about as a group is that the previous week's performance is never going to be good enough to win. We've got to constantly chase improvement, we have to rip in at training, make the hard choices and push ourselves.''
The Brumbies return to training today and are hopeful winger Henry Speight, who re-injured his knee in the win in Wellington, will be fit to keep his place in the starting XV.