Brumbies have one eye on Super Rugby final

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    With a home Super Rugby quarter-final guaranteed, the Brumbies’ final-round clash with the Chiefs could give them a first-hand look at their playoff opponent.

    The Chiefs have a lot to gain from Saturday’s match in Hamilton, with a trip to Canberra to meet the Australian conference champions preferable to a trip to Johannesburg to face the Lions in the first week of the finals.

    Alternatively, the Hurricanes can book their passage to the Australian capital by toppling the unbeaten Crusaders in the match immediately after the Chiefs play the Brumbies.

    But if the Hurricanes lose and the Chiefs knock off an under-strengthened Brumbies, it will be the Waikato-based team making the trip to Canberra.

    While many teams tasted finals success in South Africa in recent years, the travel often brings them undone the following week.

    Since 2011, no team has won a title with an African leg in their finals campaign.

    For the Brumbies, the central focus is on the quarter-final with coach Stephen Larkham opting to rest a raft of stars.

    He said a six-day turnaround on the back of a tough trip to Hamilton, coupled with injuries prompted 12 changes to the starting line-up which was upset by the Queensland Reds last week.

    “It’s not a fly-in, fly-out,” Larkham told AAP.

    “It’s flights from Canberra to Sydney, Sydney to Auckland, a bus to Hamilton and then vice-versa on the way back.

    “It’s not so much about the result for us – it hasn’t been all year – it’s about making sure that we play the way we want to play.

    “It is about getting our best prep so that we give ourselves every chance of winning the game next week.”

    Chiefs’ All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown have been rested after a gruelling series against the British and Irish Lions.

    “They’re playing pretty much their full-strength side bar three guys who’ve played all of the Test matches,” Larkham said.

    “That will give us a really good indication of what we need to do next week if we have them again.”

    Brumbies flyhalf Wharenui Hawera is one of three players who started against the Reds to retain his spot.

    He will play in his hometown of Hamilton after signing a two-year contract extension to stay in Canberra until the end of 2019.

    © AAP 2017

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