After a 2014 season plagued by injuries where they made the semi-final before going down to the eventual winners in the Waratahs, the 2015 season for the Brumbies poses a few questions for their fans. There has been a bit of change both on and off the field and it will be interesting to see how those changes affect the team.
The first question surrounds the coaching staff and how Stephen Larkham will go as sole head coach following the departure of director of rugby Laurie Fisher to Gloucester. There has been a change at the top for the second year in a row and stability is key for the Brumbies to taste success in 2015.
Larkham has been in the coaching system for a few years now and has the opportunity to stamp his own style on the Brumbies style of play which he knows so much about. The Brumbies have been criticised in some circles for conservative play in past seasons but with Larkham at the helm, fans are hoping to see a more expansive and attacking style that was their hallmark in the early 2000’s.
Larkham will be joined in the coaching ranks by Dan McKellar in his second season with the Brumbies and he also took on the role of head coach of the Vikings side in the NRC, coming away with mixed results. McKellar takes over as the forwards coach in the role vacated by Fisher. Coming into the setup this year is former Brumbies player Peter Ryan as contact coach after stints with league sides mainly as a defensive consultant and his no nonsense approach will be welcomed.
Here he is playing for the Brumbies against the British & Irish Lions in 2001 involved in a bit of contact with Iain Balshaw, and others.
2015 will see a new captain for the Canberra side after Ben Mowen departed for Montpellier at the end of the 2014 season. Stephen Moore was appointed shortly after the previous season had ended and that would have given him plenty of time to pass on his messages to the side during the off season.
Moore suffered a season ending knee injury just five minutes into his Test captaincy debut but that injury may have had a silver lining as it allowed him more time with the newer members of the squad and to observe his charges as he completed his rehabilitation.
Probably the biggest question surrounding the Brumbies in 2015 is how David Pocock returns after a lengthy lay off after a second knee reconstruction. He has been limited to just five competitive games in the past two seasons with the Brumbies and with the World Cup looming, will hopefully get back to his best quickly.
Luck of the draw
The draw sees the Brumbies only travel outside Australia once in the opening eight rounds with that sole international fixture being against the Chiefs in round two. The tour to South Africa doesn’t occur until the final third of the season with Cape Town and Johannesburg on the itinerary and could prove tricky fixtures. The Brumbies will avoid the Sharks and Hurricanes in the home and away rounds.
The middle portion of the season looks to be their most favorable with a stretch of four out of five games at home in Canberra including the keenly awaited fixture against the reigning champions in May. The final game of the season is against the Crusaders and hopefully the Brumbies finals spot is already sewn up by that point without having to rely on beating the most successful team in Super rugby history.
Round 1 – 13/2 Reds, Canberra
Round 2 – 20/2 Chiefs, New Plymouth
Round 3 – 27/2 Rebels, Melbourne
Round 4 – 6/3 Force, Canberra
Round 5 – 14/3 Reds, Brisbane
Round 6 – 22/3 Waratahs, Sydney
Round 7 – BYE
Round 8 – 4/4 Cheetahs, Canberra
Round 9 – 10/4 Blues, Auckland
Round 10 – 18/4 Rebels, Canberra
Round 11 – 24/4 Highlanders, Canberra
Round 12 – 1/5 Waratahs, Canberra
Round 13 – 9/5 Stormers, Cape Town
Round 14 – 16/5 Lions, Johannesburg
Round 15 – BYE
Round 16 – 29/5 Bulls, Canberra
Round 17 – 5/6 Force, Perth
Round 18 – 13/6 Crusaders, Canberra
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