Entering the 2021 Super Rugby AU season as defending champions, the Brumbies are burning to go back-to-back and maintain their title as Australia’s best.
Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar and captain Allan Alaalatoa returned to their home ground, GIO Stadium, yesterday for the first time since taking out the title in September last year to launch the Brumbies’ 2021 campaign.
With the rest of the competition sure to be aiming at them, McKellar made clear his side won’t be resting on their laurels this year.
“We know if we roll out what we did in 2020 we won’t get the result that we want,” he said. “That’s the challenge for any team in any competition, to try repeat what you did the previous year and get better.
“I thought last year we started Super Rugby, played some really good footy and then in different conditions over the winter months with the COVID break there, it sort of brought us back to the field a bit more, so we’re looking to get better.”
Brumbies ‘ready to play’ after long pre-season
With a trial match against WA’s Western Force at Viking Park in Canberra next Tuesday 9 February, McKellar and his side are keen to leave pre-season behind and get out on the park.
“They rip in and work hard and don’t complain, but we do what we do to play games. The boys are ready to play,” McKellar said.
Just over 2,000 Brumbies fans will get the chance to see their side at the Erindale venue, before their 2021 season proper starts against the Force at HBF Park in Perth (border restrictions permitting).
“It’s a new year, which always presents opportunities for players,” McKellar said.
“It’s an opportunity for new players, young players and guys that have worked really hard on pre-season to push their case, because it is always really tough to pick a 23 from one week to the next.”
Their first home game will be against traditional rivals, the NSW Waratahs, at GIO Stadium Canberra on Saturday 27 February.
After winning last year’s competition at home in front of 6,500 fans as per the COVID restrictions at the time, skipper Alaalatoa hopes more fans will be able to pack into GIO Stadium this year, with current limits allowing crowds of up to 75% maximum capacity.
“The crowd is always really important for us, we experienced that last year,” Alaalatoa said.
“We definitely know what it’s like to play in front of a full house at GIO Stadium; the community always gets behind us.
“The boys always know it’s a huge advantage to play at home and play in front of a packed crowd so we’re just hoping that number continues to grow.”
Having undergone a five-week training block pre-Christmas, McKellar said his squad have hit their strides over the past few weeks as the Wallabies contingent returned from an extended break.
“As always, they fitted in seamlessly and you can feel now the whole intensity and mood starting to change as the games get closer,” he said.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve started to drop a fair amount of detail in around our game so there’s that knowledge.
“The specifics of how we want to do things needs to be locked away, and now we need to go and do it in a game scenario.”