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Brumbies coach Larkham speaks on state of Waratahs rivalry

By AAP
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham on the pitch pregame. Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images

His chairman might say “Tah Week” is dying, but ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham insists the biggest rivalry game on his team’s calendar is still alive and kicking.

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They host the NSW Waratahs on Saturday and will shoot for an 11th consecutive win against their old enemies, a winning streak ACT chair Matt Nobbs said had taken the sting out of the rivalry.

But Larkham sees it differently, insisting it means as much to his club as it did when he was running rings around the Tahs on the field two decades ago.

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“It’s still there, internally we’re still talking about it,” he said.

“They’re just up the road and we generally get a very good crowd down the highway and it creates a really good atmosphere.

“Some of our guys have got a point to prove against some of their players, and likewise for them.

“It’s a big rivalry to play against the Waratahs. It’s something special for a rugby player.

“We’ve really focused on making sure that we’re playing the game that we want to play like we have every other week, concentrating on our preparation and making sure the elements of our game are there that we think are going to be required for this weekend.”

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They ground out a 31-25 win in Super Rugby Pacific round one, and their respective seasons have continued in that trajectory since, the Brumbies firmly in the title picture at 4-1 (four wins, one loss), while the Waratahs are languishing in second-last at 1-4.

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The Tahs get star youngster Max Jorgensen and centre Lalakai Foketi back after last weekend’s 24-14 loss against the Chiefs, although it is fair to say they have brought a knife to a gunfight, with the Brumbies recalling six Wallabies who missed last weekend’s game.

James Slipper, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Nic White and Tom Wright return from World Cup-enforced rest, with gun centre Len Ikitau fit after a calf niggle.

Larkham said there was no complacency in his side despite the Tahs becoming their “bunnies”, acknowledging that their flashes of brilliance would trouble any team.

“They’ve been really good in patches, they’re probably struggling to find a little bit of consistency, but they’ve been very dangerous when you look at their games,” he said.

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“They haven’t had the results, but they’ve actually played some really good footy, it’s been quite impressive.

“We’re under no illusions that just because they haven’t had the wins they’re not a good team.

“These guys can certainly match it with anyone in the competition.”

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