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Swanepoel out to show Brumbies he's No.1 of No.9s


David Polkinghorne

Brumbies player Mark Swanepoel at training at Brumbies HQ.

Brumbies player Mark Swanepoel at training at Brumbies HQ. Photo: Melissa Adams

After a frustrating year with the Canterbury Crusaders, halfback Mark Swanepoel is determined to make the ACT Brumbies No.9 jersey his own.

The member of the Brumbies' extended playing squad knows he has a challenge ahead of him.

Nic White had a breakout year that resulted in selection for Robbie Deans' Wallabies squad for the series against Wales and Scotland.

While he did not make his debut, he was clearly in the national team's plans before he underwent surgery on a troublesome shoulder.

He is now racing to be fit for the start of the Super Rugby season.

Despite his standout season, White still enjoyed a tough duel with Ian Prior for the Brumbies job. Now Swanepoel is throwing his hat in the ring as well.

''I came here to play and I'm going to work as hard as I can and do everything that I can to play and to start,'' Swanepoel said on Tuesday.

''That's why I'm here. [White and Prior are] good players and by no means will it be handed to anyone.

''[Brumbies coach] Jake [White]'s pretty adamant the best player will play and whoever works the hardest and proves themselves will be selected at halfback.''

Both his name and birth certificate suggest a South African heritage - the 22-year-old moved to the Gold Coast when he was 11 but any trace of a South African accent has been replaced by an Aussie one.

He represented Australia in schoolboys rugby and in the under-20s team, and has four Super Rugby caps, all with the Western Force.

Swanepoel then joined Canterbury for the ITM Cup and won a contract with the Crusaders for 2012.

But he was stuck behind Andrew Ellis and jumped at the chance to join Jake White's Brumbies. It has made him hungry to play every week.

''I was with Canterbury again this year but I didn't get to play because Andy Ellis didn't make the All Blacks, and then an opportunity came up here,'' Swanepoel said.

The squad has developed a distinct South African flavour. Jake White, Swanepoel, comeback kid Clyde Rathbone, prop Ruan Smith, lock Etienne Oosthuizen and centre Stephan Van Der Walt are all from the land of the Springbok.

The large number of Pacific Islanders at the Brumbies have formed a group known as ''The Community'' - and a smaller South African version seems to have sprung up as well.

''There's a bit of Afrikaans going around and we're going to have a braai [barbecue] on Friday night,'' Van Der Walt said.

He migrated from South Africa to Queensland about the same time Rathbone arrived in Australia.

Now Van Der Walt's a squad member alongside Rathbone.

Brumbies backs coach Steve Larkham said the pair's playing styles were similar - they preferred to run over the top of opponents rather than waste time going around them.

The 21-year-old member of the extended playing squad has set a more modest goal than Swanepoel of simply making his Super Rugby debut next year.

''I remember seeing [Rathbone] on TV when we first moved over here - it was about the same time he moved over here,'' Van Der Walt said.

''I remember seeing him on TV and saying how he was loving it in Australia and loved to play for Australia and I was the same.

''I'd love to represent Australia, it's been a dream, and I definitely look up to him.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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