The Brumbies big-names won’t lack motivation in Saturday night’s Super Rugby opener against Queensland in Canberra, but coach Jake White has implored his troops to cast aside their individual mindset.
Both sides are stacked with players who have a point to prove.
Wallabies star David Pocock in his first match for the club, Clyde Rathbone in his remarkable comeback to rugby and playmakers Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua on their road back from injury.
For Queensland, all eyes will be on five-eighth Quade Cooper, who is looking to turn boxing triumph into a bid to reclaim his Australian jersey.
White hasn’t been afraid to pump up his star recruits – claiming Pocock and Rathbone are the men to take the Brumbies to the next level in 2013.
However the South African master coach doesn’t want his team to lose sight of the ideals in which they defied critics last season and went within a whisker of the playoffs.
“We’re hoping it’s not going to boil down to one stroke of genius – it’s going to come down to teams working together,” White said on Friday.
“Our Brumby flagship has always been we work for each other. It’s been a trademark of Brumbies rugby … and as much as we need that X-factor, we just hope that’s within the team structures.”
White and Reds opposite Ewen McKenzie have engaged in mind games all week, with the pair finally meeting on the field at Canberra Stadium, before the Brumbies captain’s run on Friday.
White ribbed McKenzie for waiting until 6pm (AEDT) on Friday to name his team – while boasting the settled nature of his line-up, given he was able to name it days ago.
McKenzie believes White has put pressure on his players by talking up their chances all pre-season.
But the former Springboks World Cup winner said he has a proven formula of keeping young teams together and seeing them to their ultimate goal – and can see no reason why he can’t do the same with the Brumbies.
“I’ve done it with the Boks. I got the juniors in 2002 and won that junior World Cup and kept the core group together when I got the national job. Those boys went on to win the senior World Cup (in 2007) so it’s a tested thing,” White said.
“I like that you get continuity, you get security, safety and the understanding of getting cohesion in certain positions.”
Much-maligned Reds star Cooper is attempting to prove a pre-season boxing bout is the perfect tonic to a crisis in your rugby career.
Cooper had a tumultuous year on and off the field in 2012, but appears to be brimming with confidence heading into Saturday’s clash.
White said the Brumbies wouldn’t underrate Cooper, but would sweat on his every error.
“If he’s not 100 per cent right, we have to get excited about that because it means there’s an opportunity for us,” he said.