Brumbies 2018 Super Rugby Season preview - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Brumbies 2018 Super Rugby Season preview

Brumbies 2018 Super Rugby Season preview

There have been a number of changes at the Brumbies in both the playing and coaching teams and fans should be feeling pretty confident of their chances in 2018 considering the playing roster.

Dan McKellar has been elevated from assistant to head coach after Stephen Larkham took on a full-time role with the Wallabies and joining him is ‘Lord‘ Laurie Fisher after a stint with Gloucester and Peter Hewat from Suntory to look after the backs. Peter Ryan retains his role as defensive coach and Dan Palmer will oversee the scrum.

The Brumbies will be looking to evolve their attacking structure in 2018 after they were hamstrung somewhat with a rookie halves pairing that slowly got better as the season progressed. They can pull off a rolling maul or three per game but now have real pace out wide and throw in Tom Banks at fullback but the key will be getting the ball out to these speedsters.

The Brumbies have been fairly active in the transfer market and will also welcome back two pretty handy players in Christian Lealiifano after his illness in 2017 and stint with Ulster and, eventually, David Pocock from his sabbatical and stint with the Wild Knights in Japan.

They have lost their whole starting back row from 2017 in Scott Fardy, Chris Alcock and Jordan Smiler and backup openside Jarrad Butler also left seemingly creating a big hole. But they have recruited well in that area with Pocock’s return and the signings of Lachlan McCaffrey from Leicester and Isi Naisirani, combined with the rising talent of Rob Valetini and you can’t forget Tom Cusack’s NRC form meaning there will be hot competition for starting positions.

Also in the pack they have managed to sign Rory Arnold’s stunt double, Richie, and will no doubt confuse many and hopefully will get on the field at the same time. The signing of the ‘other’ Folau in Folau Fainga’a at hooker will create some good depth there and if he can continue his NRC form then things are looking good there.

In the backline, Matt Lucas has been recruited at scrum half and will add some experience after Tomas Cubelli went home to Argentina to join the Jaguares.

The wing spots will be a very open field with some real pace recruited with Chance Peni, James Verity-Amm and James Dargaville to compete with Lausii Taliauli who returns from a serious knee injury. Henry Speight should have one of the wing spots locked up.

For round one, 37 of the 39 contracted players were up for selection to give new head coach Dan McKellar plenty to think about heading into their opening match against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

Draw

The Brumbies start off with three away games against the Sunwolves, Reds and Rebels before heading home to play five of the next six games at home with the Sharks, Waratahs and the return Reds fixture before a trip to the New Zealand South Island to play the Highlanders.

The Jagaures, Crusaders and Rebels visit before the Brumbies head to the Highveld in South Africa for a double against the Lions and Bulls.

The last game before the mid season Test break is a Sunday arvo game against the Sunwolves before the season resumes at home against the Hurricanes before finishing off with two away games against the Chiefs in the ‘Tron and the Waratahs.

Overall

The Brumbies should be competing for a finals spot with this roster and the draw at hand. In 2017 they performed as you’d expect considering what happened in pre-season but with the experience of Pocock and Lealiifano back on deck they will have the level heads and game management they need to help the younger members in the squad. The keys look to be the backrow and midfield. If they can get on the same page quickly and form those new combinations then it will look good for the Brumbies in 2018.

SQUAD

FORWARDS

Robbie Abel
Allan Alaalatoa
Ben Alexander
Richie Arnold
Rory Arnold
Sam Carter
Tom Cusack
Blake Enever
Mees Erasmus
Folau Fainga’a
Lolo Fakaosilea
Ben Hyne
Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin
Josh Mann-Rea
Nic Mayhew
Lachlan McCaffrey
Isi Naisirani
David Pocock
Scott Sio
Faalelei Sione
Darcy Swain
Rob Valetini

BACKS

Tom Banks
James Dargaville
Kyle Godwin
Mack Hansen
Wharenui Hawera
Jordan Jackson-Hope
Tevita Kuridrani
Christian Lealiifano
Ryan Lonergan
Matt Lucas
Andy Muirhead
Chance Peni
Joe Powell
Andrew Smith
Henry Speight
Lausii Taliauli
James Verity-Amm



INS

Richie Arnold
Mees Erasmus
Folau Fainga’a
Lachlan McCaffrey
Isi Naisirani
David Pocock
Mack Hansen
Matt Lucas
Chance Peni
James Verity-Amm

OUTS

Nigel Ah Wong (Japan)
Chris Alcock (Japan)
Jarrad Butler (Connacht)
Tomas Cubelli (Jaguares)
Anthony Fainga’a (Japan)
Saia Fainga’a (London Irish)
Scott Fardy (Leinster)
Nick Jooste (Queensland)
Jordan Smiler (Japan)
Tom Staniforth (Waratahs)
Aidan Toua (Queensland)

Draw

Vs Sunwolves (a) 24 February
Vs Reds (a) 2 March
Vs Rebels (a) 9 March
Vs Shorks (h) 17 March
Vs Waratahs (h) 31 March
Vs Reds (h) 7 April
Vs Highlanders (a) 14 April
Vs Jaguares (h) 22 April
Vs Crusaders (h) 28 April
Vs Rebels (h) 12 May
Vs Lions (a) 20 May
Vs Bulls (a) 26 May
Vs Sunwolves (h) 3 June
Vs Hurricanes (h) 30 June
Vs Chiefs (a) 7 July
Vs Waratahs (a) 14 July

  • Brumby Runner

    Good read BJ, and a lot of hope for this year.

    Just read that Alcock has apparently signed with the Force.

  • ForceFan

    Go Brumbies….
    5 good signings from the Western Force – 4 of whom were the shining lights at the Brisbane 10s.
    The list of Outs shows that RA has done little to stop the talent drain OS.

    • Bakkies

      When you break it down those were expected. Fardy clearly wasn’t in Cheika’s plans as stupid as it is. The Fainga’a twins were pointless signings and I think they were only one season deals. Alcock was on a one season deal to cover for Pocock. Ah Wong was taken over by the likes of Muirhead and Banks. It didn’t look like Butler was going to make the test squad given the options at 7. Cubelli couldn’t stay much longer. If he was at the Rebels where they are allowed more than one foreign capped international might have been a different story.

  • Pedro

    Losing butler, fardy, smiler and Staniforth will probably take a bit out at the set piece and maul.

    Look forward to seeing what the extra halves experience can serve up though.

    Good write up as usual BJ.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I don’t even think so, to be honest, Pedro. I actually expect an improved maul and maybe even a better set piece.

      Sio was injured a lot of last SR season and didn’t scrummage well until halfway through the international season. He’s back now, and uninjured. Ala’alatoa has another season of experience.

      Naisarani and Valetini are both far more powerful than Fardy or Smiler (while less good at the breakdown than Fardy and inferior in the line out to Fardy), while Arnold is more powerful than Staniforth.

      Pocock is also extremely good mauling.

      • Pedro

        Yeah there’s definitely potential there, hopefully you’re right. Plus poey’s injured for a while I think, with him there we’re definitely better off than last season.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Cusack and McCaffrey look like very solid backup 7s also, as sad as I was to see Alcock go (I thought he was brilliant last year, and never really got the credit he deserved).

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Can Godwin find the form he showed on his Wallaby debut? Can he get the ball out consistently to our (relative to last year) devastating back three?

    Can Lealiifano play consistently well after his cancer (in Ireland he was great, but can he maintain it?)?

    What will McKeller be like as a coach at this level? Is he up to it, or is he Stiles? Will McKellar keep the set piece as strong? Will McKellar get them team to play with more attacking intent than the Brums displayed Larkham?

    If the answer to these questions are ‘yes’, then I think it will be a much stronger team than last year. But only time will tell.

  • Brumby Runner

    Would be good to get people’s ideas on the best 15.

    I’d go with Sio, Mann-Rea (hopefully to be overtaken by FF soon), Alaalatoa, Carter, Rory Arnold, Valetini, Pocock, Naisarani, Powell, Lealiifano, Peni, Godwin, Kuridrani, Speight, Banks (in a tussle with Muirhead). While Pocock is out, Cucask to No 7.

    Battle for the bench will also be a tough one.

    Maybe, FF, Mayhew, Alexander, Enever, McCaffery, Lucas, Hawera, Muirhead.

    Abel, Makin, Richie Arnold, Fakosolea, Dargaville, Smith, Verity-Am and Taliauli will all make it interesting.

ACT Brumbies
@steve_l15

Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

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