Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says there will be no excuses come round one of Super Rugby, despite bushfires throwing their pre-season into disarray.
The unrelenting fires on the NSW south coast and Snowy Mountains has seen the ACT blanketed in smoke for weeks, making elite training impossible.
Canberra recorded the worst air quality of any major city in the world this week, which saw the Brumbies relocate to Newcastle ahead of their season opener at home on January 31.
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McKellar admitted his men felt guilty leaving their families in the smoke-choked capital, but said the squad had settled into Newcastle since arriving on Sunday night.
“You don’t come up here without a little bit of guilt. We leave family back in Canberra but with the January 31 start, we had no choice,” McKellar told AAP.
“We can’t afford to lose training days when the competition starts so early and for us to train as professional rugby players in a pre-season environment with the intensity so high, it would have been dangerous.
“We’re very fortunate and grateful. It’s been pretty seamless. We’ve adapted really well. But the small changes we’ve had to make are pretty easy, there are people going through a really tough time.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 6, 2020
The Brumbies usually leave Canberra for a pre-season camp in January and McKellar said there were benefits to being forced from their training facilities for the next 10 days.
“We had a good five weeks pre-Christmas. We pushed them hard, we always train hard at the Brumbies but we’ve probably taken it up a notch this year,” McKellar said.
“So it was a tough block for the players but I think everybody would be happy with their preseason so far and nothing changes from here.
“We’re not at our headquarters but there’s some real benefit to being away and getting the group together.
“We’ve got no complaints or excuses. It’s not part of us.”
McKellar remains confident the Brumbies can push for a drought-breaking title this season, despite losing several stars including David Pocock and Christian Lealiifano.
They finished third on the ladder last season before being knocked out in the semi-finals by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
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