This time last year, the Brumbies were busy preparing for the Super Rugby season while camped out away from home in Newcastle. In 2021, Tom Banks and his teammates are hopeful that nothing of the sort interrupts their preparations.
Significant bushfires in Canberra necessitated the change of location in 2020 and almost forced a cancellation of the Brumbies’ opening trial match of the year against the Rebels.
Of course, that wasn’t the only disruption to the season, with COVID-19 causing a complete restructuring of the Super Rugby season following March, which saw the Brumbies take on their fellow four Australian sides in Super Rugby AU.
The new competition is here to stay for at least one more season and the Brumbies’ pre-season is now well underway, with the team enjoying a three-day camp in Jindabyne, in rural ACT – and the team is hopeful that the year can progress without too many sudden changes of plan.
“It is still obviously quite a challenging time,” said fullback Tom Banks. “You can’t really forget that.
“Obviously pre-season’s been pretty much uninterrupted at this point and we’re trying to get as much work as we can in before that start date.”
It hasn’t been your typical pre-season, however, with the Brumbies coaches ensuring the players aren’t conditioned off their feet before the season kicks off. Instead, some gladiator battles at the Canberra Water Park were on the cards earlier this week.
“The boys were really going at it,” Banks said following a session on the blow-up attraction. “I think it’s a bit of fun and that’s something we’ve really tried to focus on since we’ve been back, just that fun element of pre-season. It is a tough time but you’ve got to have that [enjoyment].”
Banks, who made his Wallabies debut in 2018, was recalled to the squad by new coach Dave Rennie following an exceptional season with the Brumbies in 2020. Like his fellow Wallabies, Banks was given an extended post-season break.
“Yeah it is [a shorter pre-season]. I think seeing all the work the boys put in, obviously when we [the Wallabies] weren’t there, it’s really telling when we come back in and see the sort of training centre that the boys have been putting up. It’s sort of hard to come in and compete but we’re doing the best we can and the training’s been really competitive and I think everyone’s really putting their hand up.”
Speaking of the new coaching set-up for the national side, Banks was optimistic that the new attacking brand of rugby will reap benefits in the future – despite the less than savoury results from 2020.
“Obviously the new set-up that they brought in, the coaching staff, has been really good. It’s really positive, the stuff they’re trying to bring in, some really attacking rugby. The attacking principles and basics that we may have gone away from. I really enjoyed it – hope to get back [into the Wallabies] in the near future.
“The stuff they’re trying to bring in is a really attacking brand of footy and something that a lot of the players have bought into. It’s only going to get better with time.
“You’ve got to score points to win. But they also do put a big emphasis on defence. If you look at a lot of our championship-winning teams, defence wins it for them. Attacking has always been a brand of Australian rugby and I think we’ve really tried to bring that back.
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