Dave Rennie has delivered a simple message for ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds rivals vying for Wallabies jerseys: there's "no better time to make a statement than in a final".
Because Saturday night's Super Rugby AU final between the Brumbies and the Reds at Lang Park will boast a level of intensity "certainly a lot closer to Test footy than the average Super game".
The Brumbies will fly to Queensland on Friday morning with a raft of Wallabies hopefuls on the plane - 14 of Dan McKellar's wider squad members were included in Rennie's 40-man squad for a camp last month.
Another 12 hailed from the Reds, with competition for Test caps rife within Australian rugby's premier teams.
Among the combatants are flyhalves Noah Lolesio and James O'Connor, scrumhalves Nic White and Tate McDermott, and tighthead props Allan Alaalatoa and Taniela Tupou.
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There are wingers like Tom Wright and Andy Muirhead hunting for starts ahead of Jordan Petaia and Filipo Daugunu, and No. 8s Rob Valetini and Harry Wilson.
"There's a lot of spots that are really competitive, so no better time to make a statement than in a final," Rennie said.
"We invited 40 guys into camp and there was about 26 from those two sides. They've been dominant, the best two sides in the competition, and two of the best games for a long period of time in Australian rugby I reckon, the Brumbies and Reds' games during the round robin. It should be a doozy.
"I'm not going to pick a winner, because I'll get shot by someone. The Brumbies have been fast starters in both of those games, and the Reds have clawed their way back and only really taken the lead in the dying moments.
"Both sides would have learnt a bit from that, the Reds will want to start fast and the Brumbies will want a strong finish."
Rennie rolled up his sleeve to donate for the 'Pacific Donor Drive' on Thursday as Lifeblood calls on Maori and people of Pasifika heritage to donate blood to find a match for three patients who have a rare blood type.
This blood type is so rare that it is only found in one per cent of all Maori and people of Pacific Island heritage.
Now he will watch two fierce rivals roll up their sleeves in search of glory, but a handful of Test contenders will be missing.
Brumbies prop James Slipper and No. 8 Pete Samu have been sidelined by knee injuries, though McKellar hopes they will return for the Trans-Tasman tournament.
Queensland are without strike pairing Hunter Paisami and Suliasi Vunivalu.
"There's a handful of guys who have got injuries and unfortunately won't take to the field on the weekend," Rennie said.
"We've been watching those guys closely, we're monitoring their recovery and hopefully they'll get an opportunity to show their wares against the Kiwi sides."
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
Saturday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Lang Park, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport and 9Gem. Tickets from Ticketek.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Lachlan Lonergan, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Nick Frost, 7. Rory Scott, 8. Rob Valetini, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Folau Fainga'a, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Henry Stowers, 20. Luke Reimer, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Mack Hansen.
Queensland Reds squad: 1. Feao Fotuaika, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Ryan Smith, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O'Connor (c), 11. Jock Campbell, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Josh Flook, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Bryce Hegarty. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Dane Zander, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Seru Uru, 20. Liam Wright, 21. Kalani Thomas, 22. Isaac Henry, 23. Filipo Daugunu.
*The Brumbies are offering a package for fans including a charter flight to and from Brisbane, a ticket to the final, and one night's accommodation. Secure your seat here.
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