ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says his side will continue blending set-piece rugby with attacking flair, adamant they can avoid the traps of trying to play a razzle-dazzle style after a four-month break.
The Brumbies have made injury-forced changes to their teams 109 days after their last match, losing Tom Banks, Solomone Kata, Caderyn Neville and Ryan Lonergan for the clash against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.
Mack Hansen will play just the second game of his career more than 12 months after making his debut, replacing Banks at fullback while Tom Wright and Andy Muirhead will share the wing duties.
Most Australian rugby fans and even the Brumbies' rivals are expecting the Canberra team to hit the ground running after their superb start to the regular season.
McKellar is wary of the coronavirus shutdown, new law variations to promote fast-paced action and a long break between games affecting the flow, warning it will take time to restart.
But he said the Brumbies had already shed the reputation of being a set-piece dominated team despite the Rebels accusing the Brumbies slowing down the game when the teams met in February.
"[Slowing the game down] is certainly not a tactic of ours. Rugby is a unique game, you can approach it many ways throughout a game," McKellar said.
"If you look at the statistics after the first seven weeks, we scored more tries than anyone, our back three had scored plenty of those and we had only scored four maul tries.
"We scored four tries in the first half against the Rebels [in round two], the game slows down when you have to stop for conversions. We can't help that.
"Do we like attacking rugby and set piece and scrum, lineout and maul? One hundred per cent. Will we change that? Nope. You've got to have balance in your game."
The Brumbies scored 31 tries in their first six games, averaging 34.7 points per game. It was their best attacking start to a season since they last won the competition back in 2004.
The new season carries different challenges, with Australian derbies every week to test emotions every week. The Brumbies snapped a four-game losing streak when they beat the Rebels earlier this year.
"It's going to be physical, high intensity and both teams want to win. It will be on," McKellar said.
The back-line reshuffle will test new combiations against a star-studded Rebels back line, which boasts Super Rugby milestone man Matt To'omua, John Eales Medal winner Marika Koroibete, Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty and Test everywhere man Reece Hodge.
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The new season is set to be a 12-week selection trial for Wallabies hopefuls, every player given a clean slate under the watch of new coach Dave Rennie.
The Brumbies were flying before the coronavirus-forced shutdown in March, winning five of six games and enjoying their best start to a season in 16 years.
It catapulted several players into Wallabies contention, including rookie flyhalf Noah Lolesio, who will go toe to toe with To'omua in the former Brumby's 100th Super Rugby game.
But McKellar says Test selection is an afterthought on the eve of the three-month season.
"Our players are all about the team and understand if you perform well as a team, generally individual recognition comes off the back of that," McKellar said.
"It will be purely focused on what we have to do as a group collectively on Saturday night. If we do that consistently well over a period of time ... as we've already seen, then players will get recognised."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND ONE
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm
Brumbies: 1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Faingaa, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Murray Douglas, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Mack Hansen. Reserves. 16. Connal McInerney, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Tom Cusack, 20. Lachlan McCaffrey, 21. Issak Fines, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Len Ikitau.
Rebels: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Pone Fa'amausili, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Michael Stolberg, 6. Josh Kemeny, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Michael Wells, 9. Ryan Louwrens, 10. Matt To'omua, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Reece Hodge, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty. Reserves: 16. Efitusi Maafu, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Trevor Hosea, 20. Esei Haangana, 221. Rob Leota, 22. Frank Lomani, 23. Andrew Deegan.