The ACT Brumbies have launched a bid to re-sign James Slipper as coach Dan McKellar attempts to keep together his world-class tag-team combination.
The Brumbies have started contract negotiations with Wallabies veteran Slipper, who says he is keen to stay in Canberra after making an unexpected Super Rugby switch last year.
He has formed the competition's most powerful loosehead prop combination with Scott Sio, joining Wallabies duo Folau Faingaa and Allan Alaalatoa to give the Brumbies a set-piece anchor.
Alaalatoa has a contract until the end of 2023 while Sio and Faingaa have recommitted for at least the next two years. Slipper, whose deal expires this year, could join them and the 30-year-old believes his best rugby is still ahead.
He has played 96 Tests for Australia and 126 Super Rugby matches for the Brumbies and Queensland, and he has resurrected his career in the capital after a controversial end to his time at the Reds.
"I have been thinking about [the next contract]. I've still got a few years in me," Slipper said.
"I think some of my best rugby is still ahead of me. I still don't know what the future holds for me, but we'll see what happens."
Slipper and Sio will swap places again when the Brumbies play the Japan Sunwolves in Wollongong on Friday afternoon.
The pair have been locked into a two-game starting rotation since forming their partnership last year, giving the Brumbies the sort of depth all teams crave.
"They're both outstanding props. We make a decision on who plays week to week, but they're both very important to our team," McKellar said.
MORE RUGBY NEWS
"Slips is in a rare patch of form at the moment and can do a job for us on both sides of the scrum. He's a world-class front-rower. We're progressing with talks and we'll see where it goes."
The Brumbies will be aiming for a sixth consecutive win against the Sunwolves after their match was shifted from Osaka to the NSW coast because of coronavirus fears in Japan.
McKellar is using the game to rotate some players in his back row and on the wing, but captain Alaalatoa will start again as he continues an ironman effort in the front row.
Alaalatoa has played almost every minute of every game so far this season, averaging 76.25 minutes in the opening four matches according to the Fox Sports Lab.
It's the most minutes of any front-rower in Super Rugby and ranks him 15th of all players in the competition, which is a remarkable effort given the demands of the tighthead role.
Tom Ross will serve as his back up against the Sunwolves, vowing to step up to help lighten the skipper's workload.
"George Gregan spoke to us in the pre-season and said: 'when your time comes, you have to be ready'," Ross said.
"Allan's an athlete. It's not surprising ... I'm always asking for pointers and he's the best person to serve an apprenticeship under."
SUPER RUGBY ROUND SIX
Friday: Japan Sunwolves v ACT Brumbies at Wollongong, 2.45pm.
Brumbies: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Connal McInerney, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Caderyn Neville, 5. Murray Douglas, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Will Miller, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Ryan Lonergan, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Toni Pulu, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Solomone Kata, 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. James Slipper, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Tom Cusack, 21. Joe Powell, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Tom Wright.