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Little things make mighty Brumbies

Date

Chris Dutton

They have defied everyone's Super Rugby expectations and coach Jake White wants the ACT Brumbies to become competition pioneers by setting the standard for ''the little things that make you win''.

The Brumbies will take the next step in their quest to break an eight-year finals drought when they play the Wellington Hurricanes in New Zealand tomorrow night.

And the Brumbies hope breaking with travel tradition helps maintain their lead at the top of the Australian conference as they edge closer to a finals berth.

The Brumbies flew to Sydney yesterday and will fly to Wellington this morning.

It might seem like a minute detail, but the Brumbies have built their campaign around making sure every element of their preparation is perfect.

In the past the Brumbies have flown from Canberra to Sydney and on to New Zealand in the same day.

But manager Tony Thorpe changed the travel to avoid Canberra's early-morning fog and help the players' recovery.

The squad will return to Canberra later than usual on Saturday after a recovery session in Wellington in the morning.

Captain Ben Mowen said: ''It now seems crazy we wouldn't do it.''

The Brumbies also formulated a plan to help them recover from their long flight from South Africa.

The players were exposed to sunlight in the afternoon to speed up their recovery from jetlag after the two-game tour.

It's all part of White's plan to make the Brumbies a leader in the competition.

And wary of the high workload on his young players, White ordered the team to leave Canberra last week during their bye to make sure they were refreshed for the clash with the Hurricanes.

''It's quite exciting for us, I think the boys are waiting to play, you get a week off and then all of a sudden everyone's excited about playing again,'' White said. ''It's the little things that make you win. Having a guy like Tony Thorpe who has been with the Crusaders, it's all about added value.

''The players have bought in, they know every decision we make is made to make sure we get a better result.''

The Brumbies are well advanced in their transition phase with the new generation establishing themselves as a finals contender.

Instead of shying away from past statistics, White is using the Brumbies' poor record in Wellington to inspire his team.

The Brumbies have already defied the odds to become the club's most successful team in a decade to tour South Africa.

But they haven't beaten the Hurricanes in Wellington since 2003.

Like the Brumbies, the Hurricanes had a massive player turnover at the end of last season. While the Brumbies lost Matt Giteau, Rocky Elsom and Adam Ashley-Cooper, Hurricanes stars Ma'a Nonu, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden and Andrew Hore all departed and coach Mark Hammett took a punt on a new brigade.

Both the Brumbies and the Hurricanes finished near the bottom of the ladder last season after they battled through tough campaigns.

But their decision to invest in new talent is beginning to pay dividends.

''They probably are similar to us in what we're trying to create with our culture and environments,'' Hammett said.

''I have my philosophies on what a team should be and I felt for us to move forward and ultimately be consistent and challenge for titles that we needed a fresh start.

''So we went about trying to achieve that. That's caused some teething issues, it has some ups and downs but on the whole I'm pleased with where we've been able to get to.

''We're a team that when we drop below 90 per cent we're well off the game, that's why every game is so big for us.''

The Brumbies have made just two changes to the team which comfortably beat the NSW Waratahs two weeks ago with Zack Holmes and Ian Prior being elevated to the starting XV.

TOMORROW

Super Rugby round 13: Wellington Hurricanes v ACT Brumbies at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 5.35pm.

TV time: Live on Fox Sports 3.

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