This is Locky McCaffrey’s maiden Super Rugby campaign but hostile crowds and a knockouts matches are all familiar territory for the Brumbies backrower.
McCaffrey played three seasons with English side Leicester in which the Tigers made the Premiership semi-finals three times and also the final four of the European Champions Cup, ultimately knocked out by French heavyweights Racing 92.
His playoff opportunity might have taken a little bit longer to come across in Australia, after six Super Rugby seasons spanning from 2010 to now, but his first knockout Super Rugby campaign has stood up to the others.
While the crowds might be larger in the European Champions Cup, he said the intensity of a sudden-death match doesn’t change much.
“The intensity of all finals games no matter where fast and tough,” McCaffrey told RUGBY.com.au
“They’re always tough battles.
“Overseas, there’s the luxury of bigger crowds and some mad atmospheres but at the same time the 12,000 odd Canberrans that came out created a freaky good atmosphere last weekend.
“I think all finals games require a lift in intensity and that was a good example last weekend but we’re going to lift this weekend against the Jaguares.”
There was little that the Brumbies were left to regret in a 38-13 final eight victory over Durban’s Sharks but their challenge this weekend will be far more fierce, going to Buenos Aires to take on a red-hot Jaguares side.
“I don’t think we’ll change much focusing on ourselves last few months working well for us don’t think we’ll change much,” McCaffrey said.
“The Jaguares present different threats. They have a great set piece and a really attacking backline with a strong back three that can really strike in counter attack, which is something we’ve previewed.
“Not many teams come to Buenos Aires and beat the Jaguares so it’ll be a tough night but one we’re really excited for.”
The Jaguares are looking for a slice of history after winning the club’s first final last weekend and though an exhausting win over the Chiefs would have expended plenty of emotion, McCaffrey said he expected the hosts to back that up on Saturday morning.
“I think they’ll definitely step up, they’ve got Test players with that Test experience that they’ll bring again for a big match and a big semi final at home,” he said.
“They’ve got passionate fans and passionate players who love representing their country.
“We’re just focusing on ourselves be a high intensity come Friday night (Saturday morning AEST) and hopefully start well and take out some of that crowd.”
One thing that the Brumbies were left ruing was the loss of Pete Samu, who pinged his hamstring amid an impressive display against the Sharks.
Samu has been one of the side’s best this season and in recent weeks, his form has gone up another level.
McCaffrey will likely return to the starting side in Samu’s place, though rookie openside flanker Jahrome Brown would also be an option step up, and he said whoever was picked would be able to fill the void.
“It’s really disappointing for Pete,” he said.
“Think he showed everyone how athletic in the two tries he scored against the Sharks…but that happens in teams and I’m sure the rest of the forwards will cover the workload.
“ I’m not sure what the mix will be with Jahrome playing swim really good footy, the right forwards will do a really.”
The Brumbies backrow will face a tough test against a Jaguares pack that has undone plenty of sides at the breakdown this season but McCaffrey was confident they’d be
“There’s lots of good backrows in Super rugby, Pete, Jahrome and (Rob) Valentini have been phenomenal.
“At the Brumbies, Dan (McKellar) and Laurie (Fisher) have the luxury to pick from all those guys.
“The Jaguares have good ball carriers, they’re hard at the breakdown and we’ll have our job cut out for us.”
The Brumbies take on the Jaguares at Estadio Jose Amalfitani on Saturday June 29, kicking off at 9:05am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo Sports.
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