Brumbies injury toll rises after defeat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies injury toll rises after defeat

By Adrian Warren 20/03/2010 05:30:56 PM Comments (0)

Injuries are finally starting to take a toll on the Brumbies following their 39-34 Super 14 rugby loss to the Blues in Auckland on Friday.

Veteran flanker George Smith (shoulder) and inside centre Christian Lealiifano (knee) were casualties of a fast, hard-fought game which featured eight tries and some bruising hits.

Lealiifano could be out for at least six weeks with a suspected posterior cruciate ligament injury, while scans will determine whether Smith suffered any nerve damage.

"I got a good stinger out there trying to tackle (Blues fullback Isaia) Toeava and came off second best," Smith said in a TV interview.

Apart from injuries to star recruits Rocky Elsom and Matt Giteau which kept them out of the opening round, the Brumbies have been blessed with good health through the early weeks of the competition.

Coach Andy Friend enjoyed the luxury of naming the same 22 players for four straight weeks before outside centre Stirling Mortlock was ruled out of the Blues game with neck and shoulder issues.

"We've been fortunate up until now with minimal injuries, we've got a few now, we'll just have to deal with that," Friend told AAP from Auckland.

Mortlock's steadying defensive presence was certainly missed as his replacement Tyrone Smith and centre partner Lealiifano struggled to contain Blues outside centre Rene Ranger.

The Blues piled on four third quarter tries to lead 36-22, before a late fightback got the Brumbies within two points.

If Mortlock is fit to play against the Chiefs in Canberra next Friday, Tyrone Smith is likely to move in one to inside centre to replace Lealiifano.

It will be the start of a six-game run in Australia, with five of those matches at home.

A bonus point lifted the Brumbies to fourth, but only three points separate them from the next five teams, most of whom have a game in hand on the Canberra-based franchise.

Beating the Chiefs has taken on greater importance, as successive losses would leave them outside the top four and with the bye to come the following week, they would face the prospect of falling further behind the early pacesetters.

"We get through that week (against the Chiefs) and have a look at our game style and what we need to adjust as we head into the final run.

Friend said he acknowledged his side was challenged by having to adjust to the quicker tempo of the Blues style after four consecutive fixtures against South African teams.

Friend believed the Brumbies would be better prepared for the Chiefs, as their free flowing style of play was identical to that of the Blues.

"It's a very similar sort of outfit, just change the jerseys virtually," Friend said of the Chiefs.

"They will come at you from all across the park. Having now had a game like that under our belts, hopefully we will be better for it."

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