The clash between the Reds and Brumbies tonight is for more than just top honours in the Australian conference this year, it is for a Super Rugby home final. We’ll have live scores and commentary from 7.40pm AEST.
It is about McKenzie versus White, it is about Genia versus White, Cooper versus Toomua, Lealiifano versus Tapuai and ultimately it is about Gill versus Smith.
When you run down the names on the Reds’ teamsheet, you would think man-on-man the advantage will lie with them, also consider it is a home fixture for the Reds where they have been very successful of late.
But let’s get back to the coaches for a moment.
Ewen McKenzie will be seen as the ‘heir to the throne’, Jake White will be seen as the invader from Africa, arriving on the shores with his South African ways to oust the heir to the throne.
Both have very good records in Super Rugby – McKenzie a 40 -15 record, White a 17-6-1 record.
White has made waves since his arrival in Canberra, getting involved in a number of activities outside Brumbie s rugby, including having a session with rugby league to see what he can pick up there.
Now that in itself is rather uncharacteristic of South African coaches, learning from someone else.
It shows the intent with which White has taken over the reins at Canberra.
McKenzie has in turn declared that he is done with Super Rugby at the end of this season and indicated he wants an international coaching position.
And then finally, coming back to the players, Deans will be watching this game with much interest.
You see, unless you have been living under a rock this past decade you would know the British and Irish Lions are in town about two months from now.
Although inexplicably the Waratahs have been making up a large proportion of the Wallabies over the past few years, it will be these two teams that will provide the magic for Deans.
Cooper and Genia is a long-standing combination, but they will be up against White and Toomua.
Gill and Smith is a classic example of the young bull versus the old bull. We all know the story of the two standing on the hillside admiring the ladies down in the paddock – the question is who will be schooling who?
The Brumbies play more structured rugby in my view, they play a little more direct and their tactical kicking is one of their strengths.
Jake White doesn’t like to play risky rugby and the Brumbies do like to get ahead early.
The Reds are a tad more creative, how else can you not be with Cooper and Genia the pivotal cog in the Reds attacking wheel?
If the Brumbies want to win this match, they will have to stop Genia, he is the crux, Cooper is half the man when Genia is under pressure, it doesn’t allow him to play his natural game and it doesn’t provide him the time and space he needs to weave magic.
The forward packs will be evenly matched if both teams bring the physicality and numbers to the breakdown.
Confidence is riding high in both camps. It will be a battle for the ages, I give the Reds the slight advantage.