Rugby: Brumbies stand ready to repel gatecrashers

Brumbies Jake White Photo / Getty Images.
Brumbies Jake White Photo / Getty Images.

Super rugby resumes after the three-week international break and it seems the Brumbies are right back where they started - having to prove their worth as Australian conference leaders.

Jake White's surprise packets are within striking distance of their first finals campaign since 2004 but, with three games left, the coach is ever wary of teams who will be out to crash the Brumbies' party.

White has named a 22-man squad to fly to Perth for their clash with Western Force at nib Stadium tonight. There have been several changes to the line-up that played on the other side of the break against the Rebels, with Henry Speight recalled to the starting XV to replace Joe Tomane, who has hurt his ankle.

Newly capped Australian representative Dan Palmer resumes his place in the front row, while Sam Carter has been brought in at lock over Leon Power. The Brumbies, who have notched just the one win in Perth, face a difficult prospect against the Force, who will be full of emotion in farewelling lock Nathan Sharpe in his last home game for the WA franchise.

White agreed the Force, despite their lowly standing at the bottom of the Australian conference with just three wins, will be out to thwart the Brumbies' push towards the finals.

"But that's no different to the Waratahs the next weekend and no different to the Blues who come to Canberra the third weekend.

"It's the same old, same old [for us] - we've just got to focus, play as well as we can.

"We've got a lot to play for, so there's going to be a lot of emotion for us as well."

The Brumbies, who now boast five Wallabies, need to win two games to ensure the Queensland Reds don't sneak past them for first place on the Australian conference.

Despite fears the international break could disturb the Brumbies' momentum, second-rower Peter Kimlin said it was like it never happened.

"The amount of excitement coming into this week has been pretty special and I think the first session we had on Monday was probably the sharpest of the year."

- AAP

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