The Brumbies are focusing on a smarter defensive performance against the Hurricanes as they try to stop New Zealand’s Super Rugby domination of Australian teams.
Australian sides are winless in 12 attempts against Kiwi opposition this season, with the Brumbies forced to turn things around quickly for Friday night’s match in Napier after a shock defeat to the Melbourne Rebels last week.
Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter says the side has concentrated on countering the Hurricanes’ high-tempo attack.
“Instead of jamming in, it’s reading players and making sure we shut down those offload channels,” Carter said.
“Don’t clock off on the inside because that’s where Kiwi teams hurt us.
“If they spread the ball three wide there’s always someone on the inside so we have to identify that on Friday and shut it down.”
The Hurricanes lead the competition with 48 tries, 12 more than their nearest rival.
Ngani Laumape and Vince Aso top the individual try-scoring chart, crossing eight and seven times respectively this season.
They are also leading Super Rugby for metres gained, clean breaks and defenders beaten as they begin to mount a compelling case for back-to-back titles.
“They’ve obviously got great skill, great ball runners,” Carter said.
“They like to spin the ball around and their offloads can really hurt teams.
“We’ve been practising that and how we defend it over the last couple of days.
“If we can put pressure on them for 80 minutes we can get a good result.”
The Brumbies have fallen short in two matches against Kiwi sides this year, kicking off the season with a 17-14 away loss to the Crusaders and being beaten by the Highlanders by five points in their round-five clash in Canberra.
Flanker Scott Fardy sees every match against a New Zealand team as an opportunity to change the perception of dominance.
“They deserve their writing up and all that stuff they get because they have been dominant versus Australian teams, versus South African teams and versus Japanese teams,” Fardy said.
“It’s a big challenge to go over there and win but I think you’ve got to look within yourself rather than looking at the opposition.”
The Brumbies have the best defence in the competition, conceding less points than the Crusaders – the only remaining unbeaten team.
But Fardy is wary of the Hurricanes’ set-pieces which he believes have improved since last season.
“They have an incredibly hard-working pack,” he said.
“They perform week-in, week-out and play energy efficient rugby.”