‘It’s a special group’: Brumbies begin finals redemption

Fri, Jun 7, 2024, 12:55 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Stephen Larkham Midweek Media: Quarter Final v Highlanders

ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is hoping to deliver a title to a special Brumbies group, 20 years on from when he did the same as a player.

Larkham has set up the Brumbies for arguably their best shot at a Super Rugby Pacific title after finishing in third place, with just bonus points separating the ACT side from the Blues and Hurricanes.

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They are riding high off the back of six straight wins that began with a crucial victory over the top-ranked Hurricanes as they host the Highlanders at home on Saturday, where they are undefeated in 2024.

The Brumbies were knocked out in the semi-finals on Larkham's return to the club in 2023, where they trailed the Chiefs by a penalty before a late blitz by the hosts in the final ten minutes ended their season.

“It’s been a long time since last year where we were very disappointed after the semi-final,” Larkham reflected to the media..

“It was a long time out the back of that game into Super Rugby this season and we’ve worked really hard this year. 

“There’s a lot of excitement in the room and the boys are going about their business."

There is also extra motivation with several players set to leave the club at the end of the season.

This includes lock Darcy Swain, who heads west to the Force, with the Wallaby in tears earlier in the year talking about what the Brumbies meant to him.

“We had an internal farewell to some of those players on Tuesday night and it was quite emotional and you could see what the club means to them," Larkham notes.

“We’ve spoken about the opportunity that presents in front of us right now as a group knowing that these games coming up will be the last we’ll have as a group,

“It’s a special time. We’ve got a really special group of players at the moment and we want to be putting our best performance out there for everyone at the club.

The Brumbies toppled the Highlanders in their March match-up in Dunedin, taking out the 27-21 victory.

It was a physical game that saw the Brumbies recover from an 8-0 deficit after five minutes to take the win, with Larkham expecting a similar encounter.

“When we played them over there in Dunedin, the boys came out of their pretty bruised and beaten up so we’re expecting much of the same," he said.

“Their forward pack is pretty dominant with their carries, tackles and around the breakdown so we’re prepping for that.

“They have dangerous players across their backline from 9-15 who are all very handy with ball in hand so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”