Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua takes on the line in the 47-3 win against the Queensland Reds in round one. The Brumbies face the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night.The ACT Brumbies are expecting a spiteful welcome to Brisbane, coach Stephen Larkham warning his side that the Queensland Reds will be intent on making amends for their round-one capitulation in Canberra.
But Larkham isn’t prepared to engage in a war of words in the build-up to the bitter rivalry contest after the Reds took offence to his assessment after a 47-3 win in the first game of the season.
Larkham said the Reds were “not up to Super Rugby standard” as the Brumbies ran in six tries to kick-start their campaign.
Reds coach Richard Graham hit back and branded it as a “ridiculous comment”, with the reminder of the season opener certain to be used as motivation in the Queensland changerooms.
The Reds will be keen to forget about the woeful 44-point defeat, described as shambolic, in which former skipper James Horwill was given two yellow cards.
But Larkham is refusing to fall into the trap of expecting the same again, adamant that the Reds will be determined to reverse their round-one fortunes.
“It was taken out of context, but I’m sure they would agree that their performance wasn’t their usual Super Rugby performance [in round one], which is what I was alluding to,” Larkham said.
“If they need that for motivation, then go for it. We’ll find our own motivation this week.
“They’ve certainly turned it around. They’re definitely a different side, they’ve got more match fitness and they’re certainly not going to be a team beaten by 40 points again, they’ll be up for it.”
The Reds are on the bottom of the Australian conference with one win from their first four games after going down to the NSW Waratahs 23-5 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The Brumbies are unbeaten against Australian opponents this year, beating the Reds, the Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force, with a two-point loss to the Waikato Chiefs the only blemish on their record.
The next fortnight looms as a crucial period with matches against the Reds and the Waratahs giving them a chance to stake their claim for the Australian conference title.
Test flanker Scott Fardy has been cleared of a serious pectoral injury after having pain in his shoulder and arm in the 27-15 win against the Force last Friday night.
“I got a bump on my pec and just hit the nerve, but hopefully it just continues to improve,” Fardy said.
“These next two weeks are going to be incredibly tough for us. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and totally different than what happened in Canberra.”
The Brumbies are also set to be bolstered by David Pocock’s return to full training.
Pocock has played just six games since the start of the 2013 season following two knee reconstructions, and his comeback hit another hurdle when he injured his ankle against the Reds in round one.
The Brumbies will wait until later in the week before deciding if he will play against the Reds, or if they will give him an extra week to recover from the ankle syndesmosis injury.
The Brumbies have scored 13 tries in their four games this year, securing bonus points in three of their matches.
But more importantly they’ve conceded just four tries in the opening rounds and their defence has been the most impressive sign of their play.
“You get more comfortable when you defend together as a team,” Fardy said.
“The boys work hard and as long as our work rate is good, we cover each other which is important. We make mistakes in defence, but other guys make up for it.”
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