Statement made ... Laurie Fisher. Photo: Getty Images
IT'S the biggest moment of the ACT Brumbies' new era and coach Jake White believes his young squad is primed to launch their Super Rugby finals campaign two months early in their blockbuster clash with the Queensland Reds.
The Brumbies will face the most defining contest of their fairytale season when they take on the Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
A win would almost guarantee them a place in the finals for the first time since the club claimed the championship in 2004.
It's a scenario most thought was impossible at the start of the year when White took charge of one of the competition's youngest squads.
But after defying the odds for the past three months, the Brumbies appear destined to make a dream rise to the top.
Even if they lose the clash against the defending champion Reds, they are still alive in the race to the play-offs.
The Brumbies will approach their clash with the Reds with a finals intensity and hope they can attract more than 20,000 fans to the match.
The winner will be in the box seat to claim the guaranteed finals spot up for grabs in the Australian conference.
White admits external expectations have changed and that will put some pressure on his squad but he hopes to use his experience with the Springboks at the 2007 World Cup to ensure the Brumbies continue their boom rise.
''You do need to keep a lid on it, that's what coaching is all about, sharing the knowledge that I have,'' White said.
''We'll enjoy this, but we know that next week is the big one, they beat us last time and it's going to be a massive game for both teams.
''I think expectations will change, it's the natural thing because the media will start saying these guys are contenders and they've surpassed all expectations.
''That will come with added pressure, but what I've enjoyed is that every challenge that has been thrown at this group they've ticked the boxes.''
The Brumbies returned to Canberra last night after they broke an eight-year drought to beat the Wellington Hurricanes in New Zealand on Friday night.
Despite playing well below their best, the Brumbies made a second-half comeback to triumph 37-25.
At times it wasn't pretty, but the Brumbies managed to fight through a tough period to leave as winners.
They also secured a four-try bonus point. While in past years the club has struggled to accumulate crucial bonus points, the Brumbies have amassed five in their past five games and eight for the season.
They have also scored 21 tries in the past five games and have shown an ability to score from anywhere on the field.
Forwards coach Laurie Fisher believes the team has already sent a massive warning to its rivals.
''I think we've made a big statement already,'' Fisher said.
''Our focus is on playing good solid footy. And then when things go your way and you sniff a weakness, you raise the tempo and I thought it was like that [against the Hurricanes]. We were hanging in and then we went bang, bang, bang.
''But you can't get a ahead of yourself, we need to build on the things we've done.
''It's going to be a standard training week for us, our sessions will be short and intense.
''In the end our major focus will be trying to put our mark on the game [against the Reds] and that's all we're worried about.''