White warns his Brumbies to brace for a baptism of fire
Jake White, centre, has warned the Brumbies to expect a hostile reception in South Africa over the next fortnight. Photo: Melissa Adams
ACT Brumbies coach Jake White has warned his young side to brace itself for a baptism of fire from the locals during its two-match safari in South Africa.
The Brumbies fly out of Canberra today and White expects the rugby-mad South Africans to try to unsettle his youthful squad as much as possible.
White guided the Springboks to victory at the 2007 World Cup and knows he will be heavily targeted when he returns to his homeland.
Australian team of the week - round eight
15. Bernard Foley (Waratahs) (3) Photo: Getty Images
After the Brumbies' crucial 37-6 win over Melbourne Rebels on Saturday, White addressed the players on the torrid reception they are likely to receive before their clash with the Pretoria Bulls in front of a hostile Loftus Versfield crowd on Sunday morning.
''Let me warn you, it's going to be massive, they're going to go for me I'm going to tell you right now,'' White said.
''They're going to try and unsettle the squad by having some sort of dig at me, whether it's that I've deserted them … I don't really know what they'll try and do. But they'll use whatever they can, not only to bring more people to the stadium but also to promote the game and to harp up the whole thing.''
While White knew what to expect in South Africa, he admitted preparing his troops for the frosty receptions loomed as a big coaching challenge.
''That's why I'm so glad this win [against Melbourne] comes now, because it helps me explain to the players what's coming,'' White said.
''What I will do in our team meetings is just pre-warn them about what's coming, so they're not overawed.
''But I will also explain the positives. The reality is they're going to a rugby nation now who love their rugby, and will do everything they can to make sure they put the opposition under fire.
''Nothing untoward, nothing illegal, they just love their rugby, they want to win and will put pressure wherever they can.
''It's something we have to handle, and that's the uniqueness of going back to South Africa, as a South African coach, with a team that doesn't understand it.''
White's return to South Africa will be billed as a homecoming, but the man himself insists it should not be viewed that way.
Canberra is now his home, and he wanted that point to be clear.
''At the end of the day my home is now Canberra, I think it's important that people understand that,'' he said.
''I'm going back to where I was born and where I coached, but my home now is Canberra.
''I'm looking forward to seeing mates I haven't seen in a while, but I don't want them to think, as in the players, that I'm going home. My home is now here.''
The Brumbies' bonus-point win over the Rebels, their fourth victory in seven matches, helped the side retain its position atop the Australian conference.
But White said the clash with the three-time Super Rugby champion and current fourth-placed Bulls was far and away his team's stiffest test yet.
''By miles, this is [a] bigger [challenge] than we've ever had,'' he said.
''Playing the Bulls at Loftus, they'll be saying to themselves they want to beat the Brumbies and be top of the log [South African conference] this time next week, so it's massive for us. But this is what you play rugby for, you play rugby to play in front of 40,000 people in stadiums that was built for rugby union.''
Super Rugby round nine: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies at Loftus Versfield, 3.10am.
TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.