Just what does it take to win at Eden Park?
Perhaps the Brumbies should ask James Slipper that question ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific semi-final against the table-topping Blues, because their veteran prop is among the rare few who have tasted victory at the famous New Zealand rugby stronghold.
He and Queensland Reds teammates pulled off that accomplishment in 2012, a year before the Brumbies had their last win at Eden Park, a 20-13 triumph.
Scrumhalf Nic White, who’ll head back there with the Brumbies this weekend, scored a try in that win, but victory there has eluded the Canberra-based team in three games since.
Slipper pointed out a number of current Brumbies hadn’t played many – if any – matches there, and he felt they would head to Auckland full of excitement.
“There’s players like myself who’ve been around a while and we haven’t got the best track record,” Slipper told reporters.
“But with the players coming through now, they haven’t had the opportunity to play there … they’re licking their lips at a chance to play there.
“It’s a great stadium with great fans, so they’re excited.”
It’s that sort of fearless energy that has Brumbies’ fans dreaming of a grand final berth, although it would take defying their 3-18 record in NZ since their last win at Eden Park.
Slipper said their recent 21-19 loss to the Blues after a late Beauden Barrett drop goal showed they were learning how to take it up to the competition’s best.
“We played well that game … we win one more breakdown, we win the game,” he said.
“But you can pick apart games from the first minute to the last one and there’s always areas that you’re going to pick up and want to do better … we were happy, we’re just going to do it for a longer period this week.
“They’re huge.There’s plenty of All Blacks in their pack, so it’s going to be a tough challenge but one we’re excited for.”
The Brumbies were seeking to have Wallabies centre Len Ikitau available for the semi, challenging his red card for a high shot in their quarter-final win against the Hurricanes at a SANZAR judicial hearing on Tuesday night..