The Canberra side will take on the reigning champion Crusaders on Saturday in Christchurch, where they haven’t won in 19 years.
It’s the Crusaders’ first home game since 50 people were killed in a shocking terrorist attack in Christchurch two weeks ago, with the club now mulling a name change.
And making the task even more difficult is that the Brumbies are set to rest Wallabies stars in Scott Sio, Folau Faingaa and Rory Arnold as part of the Test rotation policy, although prop Allan Alaalatoa will return from a wrist injury after missing the past two games.
Gun flanker David Pocock is no certainty to play as he continues to battle a persistent calf problem.
Regardless of the odds stacked against them, McKellar is expecting an improved performance than what his team delivered in their last match, which was a 22-point loss to the Reds.
“It’s pretty crystal clear to this group that effort’s an expectation week-in, week-out, day-in, day-out, so I think we’ll get a reaction,” McKellar said on Wednesday.
“I think the big thing we lacked against the Reds was just effort and intensity around the collision area and we were out-enthused.
“They ran harder and tackled harder than us and we got what we deserved, so we’re looking to turn that around.”
McKellar said his team had used the bye week to refresh mentally and physically and he would look to replacements to cover their Wallabies to inject some extra energy against the ladder leaders, who have only dropped one game – against the Waratahs.
“It’s a great opportunity for players if it is their first starting game or for anyone who’s had limited minutes off the bench,” he said.
“It’s a special occasion, the Crusaders in Christchurch and there’s no bigger task in Super Rugby.”
Despite their two-four win loss record McKellar said his group still had belief but just needed to find some consistency in their performances.
“There’s still plenty of confidence and belief in the group,” McKellar said.
“We had a disappointing second-half performance against the Rebels and bounced back well against the Waratahs, so there’s a psychology component to it and that’s our job to make sure that come Saturday afternoon in Christchurch we’re ready to play.”
The Brumbies side to face the Crusaders will be named later today.
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