Rathbone backs Brumbies to snare record on his old stomping ground
The ACT Brumbies are preparing for a hostile reception in Durban but Brumbies veteran Clyde Rathbone has backed the young side to set a Super Rugby record at his old home ground.
And Brumbies coach Jake White is confident referee Jonathan Kaplan will not be ''hoodwinked'' by Durban Sharks mentor John Plumtree after Plumtree asked for a crackdown on the Brumbies' scrum and breakdown work.
The Brumbies will be chasing their seventh consecutive away victory when they take on the Sharks on Sunday morning (Canberra time). It's a feat no other team has achieved in the competition's 18 years; at the moment, the Brumbies are tied with the Canterbury Crusaders on six wins in a row on the road.
Clyde Rathbone talks with Jake White in Durban on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images
The Sharks present the biggest test for the resurgent Brumbies.
Both teams are undefeated after three games.
Rathbone, 31, who started his career with the Sharks in 2002 before moving to Canberra, has been moved to the bench for the clash.
The former South African under-21s player is one of the only Brumbies who has tasted success at Kings Park.
But with the Brumbies charging to the top of the Australian conference and chasing their first finals berth since 2004, Rathbone believes there's no limit to the team's aspirations.
''As a group we're really excited about testing ourselves in a place we haven't been before,'' Rathbone said.
''It's amazing how quickly things can transform and this group has been amazing to come back into.
''It's a young and hungry bunch of guys who want to get better. There's enormous capacity to improve and the signs are there that if we can keep this group together, the sky is the limit.''
White has made sweeping changes to his squad for the match.
After using just 24 players in the first three rounds and making just two changes to his starting XV in three games, White has rejigged his line-up for the Durban challenge.
He planned the reshuffle before last weekend's clash with the NSW Waratahs, and David Pocock's absence is the only unexpected change.
The coach knows he's risking continuity for fresh faces.
''To put things in perspective, the Sharks are playing at home, they're unbeaten and they played in the final last year,'' White said.
''There's no doubt that this is a tough assignment … but we're not looking at it as 'mission impossible'.''
White was unperturbed by Plumtree's plea through the media.
''[Plumtree] has put his feelings out there and he wants a return if there's a dominant scrum,'' White said.
''I don't think we scrum illegally … Jonathan Kaplan is the most experienced referee ever, he's not going to get hoodwinked into comments we make or John [Plumtree] makes.''