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Ex-Wallaby calls on Brumbies to show they’re ‘the premier Australian team’

By Finn Morton
Noah Lolesio of the Brumbies scores in the corner. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

They may be at opposite ends of the Super Rugby Pacific ladder but both the Brumbies and Western Force will likely carry a must-win attitude into their final regular season match of the year when they go head-to-head at Perth’s HBF Park.


While the Brumbies need some results to go their way, the men from the capital could potentially be playing for a spot in the top two or even the minor premiership, in what would be seen as a significant win for Australian rugby.

For that to happen, though, they need both the Blues and Hurricanes to lose their matches on Saturday. But while that’s out of their control, this match will still be considered a crucial contest regardless of how other games play out.

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The Brumbies made some changes to their team before playing the Western Force in round 13 last year. They went on to lose 34-19 in Perth, but they’ll have an opportunity to almost makes of sorts when they play at the very same venue this weekend.

Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui has called on the Brumbies to prove on the scoreboard that they are “the premier Australian team” leading into finals. On the back of five consecutive wins, it also seems vital they keep that going.

“It’s a bit like the Reds against the Tahs, the Reds have nothing to play for,” Turinui said on Stan Sport’s The Call Up. “You still need momentum, you still need to be playing well.

“It’s like when teams come first or second in competitions where you get a week off. Sometimes the week off is a curse.


“You can’t afford that release of, not the mental pressure, but the absolute professional mindset to perform and rhythm and winning into the finals is important.

“The best lesson for that is when the Brumbies changed their team last year, went and played the Force and got beat. It cost them some home final opportunities and never really recovered.

“It really was an anomaly in their season… if I’m Stephen Larkham and the Brumbies, I remember that game too. I want to go to Perth and go, ‘You know what, we are the premier Australian team… the scoreboard’s going to show the difference between these two teams.’

“Is that fair?”


Last 5 Meetings

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As for the Western Force, they could potentially be playing for a spot in the playoffs. If the Melbourne Rebels beat the Fijian Drua, then the Force will be a chance of moving up and into eighth place regardless of if the Crusaders win as well.


Before taking on the Queensland Reds in Brisbane last Saturday, the Force had won three of five matches which also included a one-point loss away to the Highlanders in Dunedin. That run of form saw them emerge as a genuine chance of making the playoffs.

But then they played the Reds.

The Force were beaten 59-13 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in what was clearly a one-sided contest. If momentum is important, then it’ll be interesting to see how and if this Force outfit can rally with a bounce-back performance against the Brumbies.

But former All Black Mils Muliaina believes the Brumbies will be “too good.”

“I know the Force have been lately at home but you just look at the minimal changes, only a couple of changes in the starting lineup for the Brumbies,” Muliaina explained.

“The big talking part is the fact… the likes of Tom Wright, (Len) Ikitau have been good. For me, it’s been Allan Alaalatoa’s return – they’ve had a real stable connection between the forwards and the backs.

“If the Drua don’t win and the Rebels get up, and also the other games with the Chiefs and the Blues, there’s plenty to play for, for both sides.

“I just can’t see the Western Force beating this Brumbies side. I think the Brumbies are too good.”

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


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