If a Super Rugby squad is used for finals fodder and nobody sees it, do they make a noise?
That philosophical query may have its answer when the Canberra Brumbies attempt to reverse their fortunes in 2018.
The have a new Coach Dan McKellar, whose objective is to prevent the Brumbies from being dismissed from the Super Rugby finals on the first weekend for the third consecutive year.
McKellar was an assistant with the Brumbies under the now departed Stephen Larkham and will seek some aid from the fulltime services of playmaker Christian Lealiifano and flanker David Pocock.
Apparently, having the most successful Australian side in the competition is no longer enough. McKellar’s task, at least so far as the writing of it goes, is simple – beat the Kiwis.
There will be some shift in playing philosophy, according to McKellar, who told foxsports.com.au, “We’ve been focusing on it for a while now, but certainly this pre-season we’ve changed the way we want to play the game. If you think of the Brumbies over the last few years — certainly while I’ve been here over the past four years — we’ve been known for our lineout, our maul, our breakdown and our defence, so we’ve identified that we need to score more tries.To do that, we’ll tweak how we’ll play the game and certainly make sure we’re more threatening from unstructured situations and transition.”
Scoring tries does seem like a valid formula.
Statistics indicate that the Brumbies do struggle in that department, whether it is the result of an opportunity supplied by a turnover, or a chance from long range.
They scored just 43 in all of 2017, while the Hurricanes, Lions and Crusaders were notching 86 or above.
The Brumbies strong suit from a try scoring persoective is from setpiece, where their 10 was the second most in the competition.
McKellar hopes to maintain that setpiece strength, but take better advantage of other chances, too. “I was told a stat recently from (new backs coach) Peter Hewat — there’s 30 turnovers a game on average, so you need to make sure you’re taking advantage of those transition opportunities from kick return and turnover attack.