Minor tweaks for bucking Brumbies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Minor tweaks for bucking Brumbies

By Adrian Warren 15/05/2010 05:23:13 PM Comments (0)

Brumbies coach Andy Friend says his maddeningly inconsistent side don't need too much tinkering after missing the Super rugby finals for a sixth straight season.

But Friend admits he wants to strengthen his outside back division.

Friday night's 40-22 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch meant the Brumbies lost their hold on fourth spot in the final round.

The Canberra-based franchise haven't made the top four since winning their second title in 2004, though they were within a bonus point victory of the semis in all but one of those years.

Dubbed the "Real Madrid of Australian rugby" before the season started, the Brumbies' performances were sporadic.

Prize recruits Rocky Elsom and Matt Giteau produced in patches rather than complete matches as was the case with the side as a whole.

The Brumbies won four of their first five games and six of their first eight, but managed only three four-try bonus points.

The failure of forwards and backs to link effectively in the opposition's 22 proved a constant source of irritation and Friend said consistency was the thing he craved most for next season.

"It's such a tough competition you can't afford to have off days and we were guilty of having a couple this year which certainly hurt us," Friend said.

"I think our attack started to come good at the end of the season, but it probably too long."

Highlighting the Brumbies' lack of backline potency was the fact prop Ben Alexander was comfortably their highest try scorer with seven.

Test backs Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper each scored just one five-pointer, as did rookie winger Pat McCabe, the only Brumby to play every minute of every game.

"Our outside backs, we need to continue to bolster but on the whole, I'm happy with the squad," Friend said.

"Next year will be another year with this same squad together and hopefully we will be better for that."

Friend will lose two of his most senior players in centre Stirling Mortlock and flanker George Smith, while he is still waiting to hear whether Wallaby skipper Elsom will re-sign for their 2011 campaign.

"That ball is obviously in his court, we're hopeful that he will make a decision in the next couple of weeks," Friend said.

Smith, who has yet to announce who he will play for in 2011, was confident about the Brumbies' future without him next year.

"There's a good core of leaders and throughout the year we've had a number of Academy players come into the team and that experience will definitely help next year."

Friday night's clash at AMI Stadium featured what was likely to be the final head-to-head battle between Smith and his old adversary, Crusader's and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

"He's been a menace to play against over the last 10 years, but he's a true champion," McCaw said.

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