Australia’s rookie star Len Ikitau has revealed his first thought when Dave Rennie messaged him last year to invite him into the Wallabies camp.
The Brumbies will aim to starve a “meat”-ravenous Honey Badger by winning the battle up front against the Western Force on Friday.
In his first Super Rugby game since his Japan sabbatical, Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins will take to the field like a rat-up-a-drain-pipe when he lines up opposite Wallabies wing-spot rival Henry Speight at Canberra Stadium.
Yet despite the hype surrounding the return of Australian rugby’s lovable larrikin, Brumbies captain Stephen Moore says it’s the Force forwards his team must contain to come out on top.
“They’ve got a really good, well drilled forward pack… it’s going to provide plenty of challenges,” said Moore.
That said, Moore and Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham are wary of the infectious attitude Cummins brings to the Force following their 42-13 thumping from the Hurricanes.
“He will give them a great boost. He’s a great character so that will give them a lot,” Moore said.
Added Larkham: “He’s a world class player. They’ve missed him in the first couple of rounds.
“The real strength with Cummins is that it doesn’t matter who is in front of him, or if no one is in front of him, he gets his hands on the ball and runs as hard as he can. He’s very aggressive.”
While the battle at the breakdown will also be aggressive, both sides have pinpointed the Brumbies’ attacking maul as a key focus.
This season’s lineout drives have yielded the Brumbies at least one try a game.
“No doubt they will be looking to stop our maul,” Moore said.
“The more something goes well for you, the more attention the opposition pays to it.”
To Force coach Michael Foley, stopping the Brumbies’ lineout drive is crucial.
“There’s no question that we’ve got to be good in that area,” he said.
“The whole contact area generally. We’ve dropped off in the last two weeks.”
The Brumbies named an unchanged side following last week’s 20-15 win over the Rebels.
There were murmurs they might rotate some players due to a short six-day turnaround, but Larkham instead opted for stability.
“It’s always good to put the same team out on the paddock two weeks in a row,” he said.
“It gives the guys confidence and strengthens combinations.”
Robbie Coleman, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ita Vaea, Jarrad Butler, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Jordan Smiler, Blake Enever, Michael Dowsett, James Dargaville, Jesse Mogg.