Tom Ross says he will probably stop short of telling Allan Alaalatoa he will have to start on the bench when the ACT Brumbies captain's suspension is lifted next month.
But the emerging tighthead prop will do everything in his power to fill the void in the Brumbies' scrum leading into a grand final rematch with the Queensland Reds.
The 22-year-old prop is poised for his first Brumbies start in their Super Rugby AU showdown with the Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
Wallabies prop Alaalatoa will spend the next three matches on the sideline following a suspension for a high shot, opening the door for little known rookie Archer Holz to potentially earn a spot on the bench this week.
The Brumbies' front-row stocks face a major test with James Slipper [MCL strain] sidelined for up to five weeks, while Connal McInerney's broken fibula could spell the end of his Super Rugby AU season.
The impending return of hooker Folau Fainga'a is a massive boost for a clash with a classy Reds pack featuring the likes of Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Taniela Tupou.
Now Ross is leaning on Alaalatoa at training this week as he looks to bolster the Brumbies' scrum in the 16th game of his Super Rugby career.
"It hasn't been so much about the weekend [that Alaalatoa has spoken about], it's more getting training right and getting my role right and ready for the weekend," Ross said.
"We're always bouncing off each other, giving each other tips. He has been very helpful in that aspect. Archer as well being around the group, it's good that he's bouncing off him as well.
"[Holz] is a big fella, he's hard to tackle at training. He's a great kid, he is always eager to learn and he has worked pretty hard over this off-season.
"Things haven't gone his way as he would have liked, but he has worked really hard and pretty happy for where he is.
"The Reds front-row are probably one of the best in the country, we want to shape up in that aspect. Big Taniela, Dane Zander and [Harry] Hoopert will all be up front, we're looking forward to that challenge."
The Reds are the biggest threat to the Brumbies' domestic crown and return to Canberra for the first time since their heartbreaking five-point grand final defeat last September.
The Brumbies have won 18 of their past 19 games at home and Dan McKellar's side is riding a three-game winning streak to start the new season.
A pair of bonus point victories have pushed the reigning champions five points clear of second-placed Queensland as they edge towards the halfway point of the competition.
But this Saturday poses the biggest test of the Brumbies' campaign as Ross and his teammates set their sights on becoming the best provincial rugby side on the planet.
"It doesn't get any bigger than that this year," Ross said.
"It's going to be an awesome hit out against the Reds. A grand final rematch, a great reason to get out to [Canberra] Stadium on Saturday and cancel any plans you've got already and head down.
"The talk is we want to go four from four going into the bye week, and that's really important for setting up our season coming into the back end of the season.
"We want to be not just the best in Australia but the best in the world, and the Reds are going to be a pretty tough challenge this weekend."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND FOUR
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Gem and Stan Sport. Tickets from Ticketek.
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