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Dan McKellar issues challenge to Brumbies ahead of season-defining fixtures

By AAP
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Dan McKellar is challenging his charges to go the distance as the Brumbies enter a season-shaping three-match stretch against Super Rugby Pacific heavyweights.

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Sitting second, the Brumbies face the fourth-placed Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday then take on fellow top-four title hopefuls the Crusaders and table-topping Blues.

It’s a gruelling program in anyone’s language but also a true barometer of where the Brumbies belong in championship reckoning.

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Fresh off back-to-back wins over the Highlanders and Hurricanes, the Brumbies are well versed in what to expect against New Zealand opposition.

“I know for a fact that the New Zealand teams like to think that they can run over the Australian teams in the last 20 minutes and that’ll be the plan with the opposition again this week,” the coach said.

“So how our finishers come on and make a positive impact and, at the same time, bring control and discipline is incredibly important.

“We know if we dominate that last 20-25 minutes, then we give ourselves a good chance of winning.”

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With “finishers” like returning pair Allan Alaalatoa and Nick Frost plus the vastly experienced Scott Sio to call on, the Brumbies are in good hands.

But McKellar knows full well the Chiefs mark a step up in class to the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

“We’re in a good position but it’s all about fronting up on Saturday evening,” he said.

“We know this is our biggest challenge to date.

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“The Chiefs at home is always a tough ask. Traditionally we play well there, we certainly didn’t last year but we’re ready to go.”

All Blacks captain Sam Cane hopes to play after sitting out last week’s win over the Queensland Reds while awaiting the birth of his first child.

But the champion flanker has been named to face the Brumbies at FMG Stadium Waikato, with wife Harriet much closer than Brisbane.

“They (babies) don’t come out on the date, normally. I’ve been told five per cent do, so all looking good to be playing this Saturday,” Cane said after training on Thursday.

“It would have to be something pretty drastic to happen.”

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