Allan Alaalatoa and Noah Lolesio were among a handful of ACT Brumbies who missed a bruising test on the last day of the club's official pre-season training block.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar called in a local referee and picked sides for a tense intra-squad battle at the club's headquarters to mark two weeks before the first game of the Super Rugby campaign.
The Brumbies will switch from a pre-season mentality to game-week preparations on Monday ahead of a trial against the Melbourne Rebels on January 23.
But captaincy contender Alaalatoa, rookie flyhalf Lolesio, lock Blake Enever and prop Shambeckler Vui sat on the sidelines as their teammates belted each other in a selection contest.
Alaalatoa and Lolesio are expected to be available for the trial and round one against the Queensland Reds on January 31, but Enever is racing to be fit after injuring his Achilles.
The Brumbies will be bolstered next week when Lachlan McCaffrey and Les Leulua'iali'i-Makin return from stints in Japan and experienced lock Cadeyrn Neville joins the Canberra club for the first time.
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Murray Douglas is also back at Brumbies training after fulfilling a short-term deal with Edinburgh.
"It's coming around really fast, it's one of the shortest pre-seasons I've been involved in," Douglas said.
"It just means we have to put in our maximum effort every day to try to be ready for round one.
"It's a great opportunity [this year] ... and one of those situations where we're trying to bring each other on and get the best out of each other.
"We've got a lot of young guys who are really excited and keen to get out there."
Lolesio, Reesjan Pasitoa and Bayley Kuenzle will battle for the No.10 jersey in round one, while Darcy Swain, Douglas, Neville and Nick Frost will battle for three game-day lock spots.
Enever is unlikely to be available for the first game, but the Brumbies hope the two-Test Wallaby will recovery quickly from his pre-season setback.
"We've got a bit of work to get through yet, no doubt there will be some bumps and bruises [in the trials], but we're getting closer," McKellar said.
SUPER RUGBY TRIAL
January 23: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Greenfield Park, Albury. Game one at 3.45pm, game two at 6.15pm.
SUPER RUGBY ROUND ONE
January 31: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.