‘No-name’ Brumbies to test Wales, says White
In Jake White’s own words, his “no-name” Brumbies have been lumped with a huge challenge to take down the second-best side that Six Nations champions Wales can muster in their mid-week tour match on Tuesday.
But the Brumbies coach insists his squad have made a habit of performing beyond the merits of their CVs this Super Rugby season and are confident they can keep Wales winless two games into their Australian visit.
Five days out from their second Test against the Wallabies, Wales have named a second-tier outfit to take on White’s Brumbies, with lock Luke Charteris the only starting player to back up from their 27-19 first Test loss.
Two others, hooker Ken Owens and five-eighth Rhys Priestland, will start from the bench.
But White maintains there’s plenty to be wary of in the Welsh squad, particularly up against a Brumbies’ side light on Super Rugby experience, let alone international caps.
“Take a look at the records and the Test caps they’ve got,” White said on Monday.
“(Five-eighth James) Hook has got over 60 Test caps, you know, and their lock pairing have got over 100 Test caps, so if you compare that to what we have … we’ve got a relatively young and inexperienced team.
“But that’s nothing that we’re not used to.
“We started the campaign playing the (Western) Force on the first weekend and they had six Wallabies in their pack and we had a bunch of no-name brands (the Brumbies won 19-17).
“So it might be a big ask, but (we’re calling on these young players) to step up to the plate and take a chance.”
With eight Brumbies on Wallabies duty, the Wales game looms as a golden opportunity for some of the youngsters to make their presence felt, with three making their run-on debuts for the year and another six making game debuts.
The game also gives White an opportunity to test combinations out, particularly Andrew Smith and Tevita Kuridrani in the centres.
The Brumbies will have to re-jig their backline when they return to the Super Rugby season against the Force in Perth on June 30, after regular winger Joe Tomane went down with an ankle injury while training with the Wallabies.
“They’re a little bit like Pat McCabe and Anthony Faingaa in terms of the way they play, so it’ll be interesting to see how that combination comes off,” White said.
“It gives us a chance to see what Andrew Smith can do at No.12.”
Caretaker Wales coach Rob Howley is meanwhile hopeful a desperate performance from the mid-week side will boot Wales’ Australian tour back into action.
“The mid-week side becomes very important in terms of attitude and this group were out training at 9am the morning after the first Test,” he told PA.
“Some of the boys are backing up (the main squad) but we are confident in our fitness and where we are with this team because they’ve already had a game against the Barbarians.”
The tour match kicks off at 7.30pm (AEST) at Canberra Stadium on Tuesday.© AAP 2013
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