Brumbies can win Super Rugby title from anywhere in top six: Ben Alexander

Brumbies can win Super Rugby title from anywhere in top six: Ben Alexander

Wallabies prop Ben Alexander says the Brumbies can win the Super Rugby title regardless of where they finish in the top six, but their focus will be on beating the Canterbury Crusaders rather than a four-try bonus point.

Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones wants to continue the Super Rugby province's legacy of being a "Wallabies factory" and that's why former Queensland Reds front-rower Albert Anae has signed.

Ben Alexander says the Brumbies' focus will be on beating the Crusaders rather than a four-try bonus point.

Ben Alexander says the Brumbies' focus will be on beating the Crusaders rather than a four-try bonus point.Credit:Graham Tidy

The Brumbies need a bonus-point to give themselves the best possible chance to finish top-two and have a week off before hosting a home semi-final.

But they would still be relying on the Reds stopping the NSW Waratahs from doing the same.

Former Queensland Reds hooker Albert Anae has signed with the Brumbies.

Former Queensland Reds hooker Albert Anae has signed with the Brumbies.Credit:Bradley Kanaris

If the Brumbies and Waratahs finish on the same points - they both are on 47 - then the Tahs will win the Australian conference because they've won one more game.

With the Super Rugby top six being so close, the Brumbies could finish anywhere from second to sixth.

Alexander said the Brumbies were confident they could beat anyone in the top six, but their focus was solely on the Crusaders.

He was wary of a side saying farewell to star All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.

The Brumbies have lost their past four games against the Crusaders and haven't beaten them since 2009.

They have only won eight of their 21 encounters against the Super Rugby powerhouse, although that record improves to six from 10 at home.

A bonus-point win is the elephant in the room at Brumbies HQ, but Alexander said the Crusaders would make them pay if they go out and throw the ball around "willy nilly" in search of tries.

He said they almost won the title in 2013 after finishing third, but fell just short against the Waikato Chiefs.

"We went within 15 minutes of winning the thing [in 2013] with the big travel, so it can be done, it can be done," Alexander said.

"We went close, but we weren't good enough that year, but if we have the chance again I think we definitely could do one better."

While it's McCaw and Carter's last crusade, it's also captain Stephen Moore's 100th Super Rugby game for the Brumbies, having also had 46 caps for Queensland.

Alexander said Moore was back to the form that has made the hooker a mainstay in the Wallabies front row.

Moore has returned brilliantly from a knee reconstruction after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last season.

"You couldn't tell he missed the second half of last year with a major knee operation, he's picked up where he left off before he got injured," Alexander said.

"He's been playing really well, he's been leading from the front, he's always top of our carries list, he works hard, his set piece is awesome ... he's been outstanding for us."

Meanwhile, the Brumbies have signed versatile forward Anae for two seasons to replace the departing Siliva Siliva.

Alexander described Anae as a "very impressive specimen" who would fit in well.

The hooker, who can also play loosehead prop, represented Australia at schoolboys and under-20 level, and was called into the Wallabies squad in 2013 - but didn't play.

Anae played 27 Super Rugby games for the Reds and has been plying his trade in Italy for Benetton.

He's eligible to play for Samoa, but Jones said he was returning to Australia to press his claims for Wallabies selection.

The 25-year-old will arrive in July and play for the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championship.

"He thinks his best chance of getting into the Wallabies is through the Brumbies program and a lot of guys do," Jones said.

"They see us as the Wallabies factory and ... with the style of play we play, it'll be good for their career."

Brumbies winger Henry Speight had an ankle scan on Saturday morning, which coach Stephen Larkham said came back "mostly clear".

The Fijian flyer was in doubt for the Crusaders clash, but would definitely be right for the finals.


Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Canterbury Crusaders at Canberra Stadium, 3.30pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

The games that matter: Auckland Blues v Otago Highlanders at Auckland, Friday 5.35pm; Waikato Chiefs v Wellington Hurricanes at New Plymouth, Saturday 5.35pm; NSW Waratahs v Queensland Reds at Sydney Football Stadium, Saturday 7.40pm; Durban Sharks v Cape Town Stormers at Durban, Sunday 3.10am.


1. Hurricanes 62pts, 13w, +162

2. Waratahs 47, 10, +70

3. Stormers 45, 10, +72

4. Chiefs 48, 10, +81

5. Highlanders 48, 10, +80

6. Brumbies 47, 9, +121

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.