It is ludicrous that the Brumbies have been dragged into the numbing chatter about Super Rugby's chop-and-change for a better future.

If the Brumbies' place at the table is in question, the Super Rugby competition should be shut down.

The Brumbies are poster boys for what made Super 12 an enviable success story. They were the start-up club that reached a final in only their second year in 1997, an instant credibility that none of the six largely lame duck additions since have come close to matching.

The Brumbies have won two titles, set trends with their playing style, been the launching pad for test coaches and moulded more than 50 players for the Wallabies.


They are safer in Super Rugby than the boffins at the Sanzaar boardroom table muddling over the competition's format revision.

Can someone please explain why an 18-team format that was junk well before last year's final in August is only now undergoing surgery that detracts from the opening month of the season?

The Brumbies had to deal with a costly divorce from their chief executive last year and are battling crowd issues but Canberra-NSW Country is a heartland rugby region.

The idea of the Brumbies merging with the Melbourne Rebels is an absurdity but such are the shadows that the gullible are jumping at during this nervous time in Australian rugby.

"The Brumbies will only ever play out of Canberra," coach Steve Larkham said yesterday. "Our mindset is we are going to be here next year. We have been the most successful club in Australian rugby, our books are good and the squad is strong."

Larkham should not have had to defend his club's existence.

What is needed right now is a classic derby in Sydney tonight to shed the negative tones in Australian rugby.

Rarely has a NSW Waratahs-Brumbies clash carried so much meaning because an intense, skilful spectacle must put the spotlight on quality rugby again.


Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu and Nick Phipps should all be saluted for reaching 100 Super Rugby games.

Those who wake up with nightmares about Super Rugby's future will only have it reinforced if they watch the duds from the Southern Kings playing at 6.30 tomorrow morning against the Sharks in Durban.

Stephen Moore has been switched to a super-sub role in Johannesburg where Andrew Ready will set the tone at hooker for the Reds.

Carefully juggling the workload of his 117-Test veteran is a clear strategy from coach Nick Stiles, who expects Moore to be of great value as a finisher against the Lions.

After three starts, Moore will play the closing 30-40 minutes tomorrow morning to guide young replacement props Markus Vanzati and Taniela Tupou.

"We've got complete faith in Andrew starting and having a guy of Stephen's quality on the bench provides unmatched experience at the back end of the game," Stiles said.

Kane Douglas returns at lock because young find Izack Rodda was unable to train fully this week due to the head knock that forced him off against the Crusaders last weekend.

Second-five Duncan Paia'aua is hoping to build on his promising midfield partnership with Quade Cooper to punch holes in the Lions defence.

"Quade's got a really beautiful footy mind and takes a lot of pressure off me," Paia'aua said.

"I think I can take a bit of pressure off him too.

"Last weekend, we only played for one half and we all know it takes 80 minutes to beat a really good team like the Lions."

Paia'aua, 22, has a silky delivery of his own when sliding into first receiver and his flick pass to winger Izaia Perese last weekend was an eye-catcher.

"I think I've found my spot [at No12] and hopefully I can be my own player and flourish in this team of superstars," Paia'aua said.