Brumbies 2019 Super Rugby Season preview - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brumbies 2019 Super Rugby Season preview

Brumbies 2019 Super Rugby Season preview

The Brumbies head into 2019 without the fanfare of other sides during the off-season and are hoping they can continue with the form that saw them end 2018 with four wins from five games. They have also won their two pre-season trials against the Rebels and Waratahs.

There are number of questions for head coach Dan McKellar in the make up of the match day 23 for 2019 as the team has gone about building depth in some areas with the backrow, inside centre and wing positions up for grabs with some handy names in contention. The pre-season form of Tevita Kuridrani was particularly impressive and his first pre-season in six years has certainly been beneficial to him as looks very fit and has bagged four tries in those two matches.

There has been a big turnover in the prop ranks with four players leaving but the big acquisition of James Slipper will go a long way to making up for those losses. Combined with some up and comers like Vunipola Fifita and Tom Ross putting their hand up when the likely squad rotation/rest for the Wallabies World Cup players of Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa kicks in, whenever that is.

The backrow spots will be watched closely with whoever misses out likely to be a starter elsewhere. The loss of Isi Naisirani to Melbourne has been cancelled out with the signing of Pete Samu from the Crusaders and hopefully he can bring that Crusaders form into the Brumbies jersey.

David Pocock will start and when he’s told from HQ to have a rest, Tom Cusack could walk in there and his time off from the NRC to sort out his body for Super Rugby has done him a world of good if the Rebels trial form is anything to go by. You can’t discount Lachlan McCaffrey either with whoever getting the nod, not likely to let the team down.

Rob Valetini had big hopes for 2018 but his season was cut short by injury so he can stay out of team rehab, he could be in for a big year and put his name on the radar for World Cup selection later in the year.

Unfortunately for Ben Hyne, his season ended during pre-season with the dreaded injury curse striking again as he tore his ACL

In the backs, the form of Irae Simone and Tom Wright in the two pre-season trials gives the Brumbies optimism for finding some spark and these two will more than likely fight it out with Wharenui Hawera to partner Christian Lealiifano.

The wing spots have five contenders for two starting positions and the signing of Toni Pulu from the Chiefs adding to the likes of Chance Peni, Lausii Taliauli, Andy Muirhead and Henry Speight, fresh from a stint with Ulster.

On field changes

For this year, the Brumbies have gone with a single captaincy setup with Christian Lealiifano taking sole responsibility. In recent years they’ve had a co-captaincy arrangement with Lealiifano and Sam Carter the leaders.

Off field changes

There’s been some changes in the assistant coaching ranks. Most notably defence coach Peter Ryan has headed North to link up with the Queensland Reds so that sees Laurie Fisher take on that role in addition to his forwards coaching role.

Former Brumby Ruaidhri Murphy will team up with Dan Palmer to oversee the scrums for 2019.


With the squad they’ve assembled, the Brumbies should be pushing for the finals in 2019 with the recruitment of some experienced players and some talented up and comers. However, there’s a few questions. When will the Wallabies players be asked to rest? There have been discussions with Michael Cheika about this and it should be sorted and this will test the depth of the squad but they seem more than up to the task.

The draw is reasonably kind and get the Chiefs and Hurricanes out of the way early, and somehow manage to play the Rebels twice in the first four games. The month of March has them playing all their conference rivals and this could set them up before a big run of four games against the Crusaders, Lions, Stormers and Jaguares, with three of those on the road.

The one Achilles for them could be goal kicking which has been a bit inconsistent in recent years. Lealiifano is likely get first crack but after him it’s not certain who the backup is, especially if Hawera doesn’t start as his starting place is under threat.



Rory Arnold
Allan Alaalatoa
Sam Carter
Tom Cusack
Murray Douglas
Blake Enever
Folau Fainga’a
Vunipola Fifita
Ben Hyne
Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin
Josh Mann-Rea
Lachlan McCaffrey
Connal McInerney
David Pocock
Tom Ross
Pete Samu
Scott Sio
James Slipper
Darcy Swain
Rob Valetini


Tom Banks
Mack Hansen
Wharenui Hawera
Len Ikitau
Jordan Jackson-Hope
Bayley Kuenzle
Tevita Kuridrani
Christian Lealiifano
Noah Lolesio
Ryan Lonergan
Matt Lucas
Andy Muirhead
Chance Peni
Joe Powell
Toni Pulu
Irae Simone
Henry Speight
Lausii Taliauli
Tom Wright


Murray Douglas (Hurricanes, NZ)
Vunipola Fifita (Vikings NRC)
Len Ikitau (Vikings NRC)
Bayley Kuenzle (Southern Districts)
Noah Lolesio (Vikings NRC)
Toni Pulu (Chiefs, NZ)
Tom Ross (Vikings NRC)
Pete Samu (Crusaders, NZ)
Irae Simone (NSW Waratahs)
James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
Tom Wright (Manly-NRL)


Robbie Abel (Melbourne Rebels)
Ben Alexander (Retired)
Richie Arnold (Toulouse, France)
James Dargaville (Released)
Mees Erasmus (Melbourne Rebels)
Lolo Fakaosilea (Kintetsu Liners, Japan)
Kyle Godwin (Connacht, Ireland)
Nic Mayhew (Yorkshire Carnegie, UK)
Faalelei Sione (Released)
Andrew Smith (Retired)
James Verity-Amm (Released)


15 February vs Rebels (H)
23 February vs Chiefs (H)
1 March vs Hurricanes (A)
8 March vs Rebels (A)
15 March vs Waratahs (H)
24 March vs Reds (A)
6 April vs Crusaders (A)
13 April vs Lions (H)
20 April vs Stormers (A)
28 April vs Jaguares (A)
4 May vs Blues (H)
12 May vs Sunwolves (H)
24 May vs Bulls (H)
1 June vs Sunwolves (A)
8 June vs Waratahs (A)
15 June vs Reds (H)

  • Huw Tindall

    Thanks Steve! You forgot one thing though….a prediction!

    I believe the Brums have the best all around balance squad in the Aussie conference with no obvious glaring week points and for that reason I’m tipping them to top the conference. Some may argue the Tahs have more points in them but the shonky scrum and injury/depth concerns already with Vui out I think this will cruel them. Rebels similar story, forward platform doesn’t look to have improved demonstrably on last year so they may struggle to unleash the $$$ in the backline. Reds are still very young and despite a monster scrum don’t have a settled ‘spine’ of the team to control games.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I think the Rebels are better than us and the Tahs on paper.

      • Huw Tindall

        Yup you’re probably right DBTB but there been so much change and new players it’s all a bit of an unknown. I’m essentially ruling out Toomua from the ‘on paper’ assessment as by the time he arrives the season may have already been decided. Also the mail is Uelese isn’t back to 100% 80 mins player soon and Hodge is a wait and see. The relative stability in key Brumbies positions is a big plus for me. Guess we’ll find out soon as Brums and Rebs play each other twice in the first 4 weeks of the comp!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          What a stupid draw.

        • Huw Tindall

          That’s another story altogether. Thank christ this is the last season of the Super Rugby structure as we know it.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          All we know is that the structure of the competition will change right, we don’t know how exactly?

        • Huw Tindall

          Well I guess it technically doesn’t have to change. It’s all tied up in the next TV rights negotiation. But given the blistering fan feedback and drop off in TV and attendance I’d be flabbergasted if it didn’t significantly change. Could mean cutting teams (Sunwolves obviously) and scrapping the conferences etc. It will need to fit in with the new global season where the June tests move to July to let Super to finish and not be interrupted.

        • Ed

          Why is this the last season of the SR structure. The current pay-TV deal is to the end of 2020 season.
          Dumb structure for sure. I know I am in the minority but I would prefer a round robin system instead of the current conferences but allegedly there is more money in local derbies.

        • Mr Wobbly

          Even stupider for us. Rebels play the Brums 2/3 games as we have the bye in Round 2.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    God the super rugby management is incompetent. How can a draw be set up that allows two teams in the same conference to play twice in the first four games?

    Moving onto more important things, I think our team is potentially really good as long as Lealiifano isn’t injured and as long as we find a 12 that works.

    I think it’s time to move on from the dual playmaker system and from Speight.

    Is it possible that Wright can be a proper 12 rather than a random playmaker playing there (eg Giteau/Beale)? I’m not sure. Is he ready for rugby yet? I’m not sure.

    I hope we see a team like this:

    1. Sio
    2. Faingaa
    3. Ala’alatoa
    4. Arnold
    5. Carter
    6. Valetini
    7. Pocock
    8. Cusack
    9. Powell
    10. Lealiifano
    11. Muirhead
    12. Simone
    13. Kuridrani
    14. Pulu
    15. Banks

    16. Mann-Rea
    17. Slipper
    18. ?
    19. Enever
    20. McCaffrey
    21. Lonergan
    22. Hansen if he’s ready, if not, Hawera
    23. Wright/Ikitau

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Eh, I was close. Although I wonder how Speight managed to get ahead of Muirhead, after their respective performances in 2018.

      • Brumby Runner

        I think Muirhead is seen as cover for both 15 and wing off the bench. Otoh, Henry did look very sharp with ball in hand against the Tahs. Anywhere near his best he will justify his inclusion. And the afro is back, channelling Samson I suspect.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          The question isn’t his ball in hand abilities, but his catastrophic defensive issues that often arise.

          I think Muirhead is about as good on attack as anyone in our team, has a huge boot and is good under the high ball. I think we were at our best with he and Banks in the starting 15. But I will trust Dan for now to deliver the goods, given how he had us playing towards the end of last season.

  • Nutta

    I’m quietly thinking the Donkeys should have a very good year.

    • Wallabrumby

      Keep it quiet though….

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Steve,

    On paper they do look quite good and I hope we see this translate into wins on the field. The big thing with this year is all of the teams seem to have improved and the conference could be quite tight. I’m think a few little things may be the difference between the teams in the end and they will all rely on good decisions at critical moments. I think Lealiifano should be up to this, especially if he gets support from the other senior players.

    Looking for ward to Friday’s match against the Rebels as I think this may set the scene for the year.

  • Wallabrumby

    If they can play like they finished the last season Brums will be a very dangerous team in 2019, not just to top the Aus conference but I can see them taking it to some of the more established Kiwi teams as well.

    I think McKellar and Co needed time to coach the structured robotic Jake Ball out of the team to play the new style, this I think hurt them in 2018 start of season.

    They have a very strong forward pack and base to work off and with Lord Laurie in charge of the pigs will make the most of that I am guessing.
    I hope Valentini can stay fit and get some game time behind him, he could be a huge asset for Aus rugby in years to come.

    CL will be better off since his time in Japan to add to his Irish experience and will lead the team around well. Unlikely (due to the MC – Foley love in) but if his form is good enough might see himself back in Wallabies contention. I am keen to see Pulu in action as well, him v banks in a foot race for a nicely placed through kick will be nice to watch :)

    • Brumby Runner

      Just quietly, I would be tempted to back Tom Wright against both of Banks and Pulu in that footrace.

      • Wallabrumby

        Interesting – I have not managed to spot any of him in the pre season, but intrigued as it seems he comes with good wraps.

        • Brumby Runner

          Showed exceptional pace to run down Richard Woolf in the Tahs’ trial. Woolf is a reknowned speedster from the Northern Suburbs side in the Shute Shield.

          Wright gave him a start and caught him from behind in about 40m.

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