Evolution will be put to the test when the Brumbies face the Stormers this weekend, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham says.
Both sides have spruiked newly expansive game plans and three weeks in, both have shown glimpses without losing their defensive strengths.
The Brumbies are arguably further ahead in their evolution, having scored 15 tries in the opening three weeks, to the Stormers’ six.
Larkham said it was pretty clear that the Stormers had committed to their attacking approach in the opening rounds under new coach Robbie Fleck.
“That’s pretty evident,” he said.
“They’re throwing the ball around a little bit more but their defence is still fairly strong.
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“I guess that’s what you want to do as a coach of a team is make sure what was strong in the past remains strong, and if you can tinker with stuff and get a better outcome then you certainly want to do that.
“They’re certainly throwing the ball around and being more expansive with their play.”
While his own side’s progression has been impressive and quickly earned them the favourites label, Larkham reiterated his team’s focus on continual improvement.
“Last year we had the best defensive record any Brumbies side has ever had…in terms of tries conceded,” he said.
“We’re disappointed with a couple of tries we let in over the last couple of weeks.
“There’s been a lot of public and supporter base expectation on the team this year because of the roster we’ve managed to maintain, but internally taking it game by game.”
While he has been adamant at maintaining a game at a time approach, Larkham admitted that being also-rans will not be acceptable for the Brumbies.
“These guys have been together for the past four years, so they’ve been through the highs and lows,” he said.
“We’ve made the finals the last couple of years and it’s not good enough for our franchise.
“We know what we’ve got to do and the focus for us this week is to get to this game and play our best footy.”
The Brumbies are sticking with the lineup that beat the Force last weekend, as they prepare for a cross-conference battle against the Stormers.
Flanker David Pocock has recovered from a broken nose to take his place in the starting side for Sunday morning’s match (AEDT) as the ACT franchise maintains its 23.
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore (c)
3. Ben Alexander
4. Rory Arnold
5. Sam Carter
6. Scott Fardy
7. David Pocock
8. Jarrad Butler
9. Tomas Cubelli
10. Christian Lealiifano (c)
11. Joe Tomane
12. Matt Toomua
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Aidan Toua
17. Allan Alaalatoa
18. Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin
19. Tom Staniforth
20. Jordan Smiler
21. Michael Dowsett
22. Robbie Coleman
23. Nigel Ah Wong