Brumbies face litmus test against Bulls - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies face litmus test against Bulls

By Adrian Warren 19/02/2010 04:37:30 PM Comments (0)

Brumbies coach Andy Friend will be looking for greater discipline from his star-studded side as they face the ultimate Super 14 rugby litmus test against the defending champion Bulls in Pretoria.

The powerful South African side have won their last 12 home games and have not been vanquished on their own turf since the 2008 season.

Each team won their 2010 opening round encounter but the Brumbies have been fortified by the inclusion of their two prized recruits, Wallabies captain and flanker Rocky Elsom and Test five-eighth Matt Giteau.

Elsom (hamstring) and Giteau (quad) are among 11 Wallabies in the Brumbies side.

Friend said both men ran with the team for most of Thursday's training session and each came through fine and were expected to play on Saturday.

He wasn't worried that Giteau's unavailability to play any of the trials would affect the fluency and cohesion of the Brumbies back line.

"It is a great litmus test for us, you always want to challenge yourself against the best," Friend told AAP from South Africa.

"The Bulls are the best at the moment, they are the team that won the championship last year and they had a big win against the Cheetahs last weekend, they are a formidable outfit.

"It's a tough ask, coming over here to beat them, but that's certainly what we intend to do."

While the Brumbies will field a full-strength team, the Bulls are without a handful of injured internationals including locks Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw, centre Jaco Pretorius and winger Akona Ndungane.

The Bulls commenced their title defence with a crushing 51-34 away win over the Cheetahs, while the Brumbies scraped out a 24-15 away victory over the Force.

Friend said he had spent the early part of the week focusing on what his team needed to do to beat the Bulls and also on how to improve on their first round effort.

"We spoke at length about where we need to be better," Friend said.

"We felt that while our set piece improved, it still needed to come up with certain options to give us that platform.

"We thought our discipline between 15 and 30 minutes of the Force game we were far too loose and gave away penalties, so we need to be more accurate."

Friend said he hadn't noticed any major adjustments to the Bulls game because of the new interpretations at the breakdown and that the South African unit still played a "kick dominated game".

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said his side would need to be at their best to beat the Brumbies. "They are a quality side, with a lot of international players," Ludeke said on the Bulls website.

"They have a great record in Super rugby and bring a lot to the game.

"They have an excellent kicking game and are famous for their running game."

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