Brumbies player, Andrew Muirhead . Plus500 Brumbies v Australian Barbarians at Viking park in Canberra. Photo Jay Cronan Photo: Jay CronanSuper Rugby rookie Andrew Muirhead will get his chance to impress from the ACT Brumbies bench with the Canberra delivery man set to make his debut in South Africa.
Muirhead, who doesn’t have a professional contract, has been added to the Brumbies’ bench for their crucial clash against the Southern Kings on Sunday morning Australian time.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham plucked Muirhead out of Canberra club rugby and away from his job to add him to the touring squad.
He is part of a game-day squad reshuffle as the Brumbies aim to end a four-game losing streak.
Aidan Toua will start on the wing for the first time in his Brumbies career, shifting from his regular fullback spot to make way for Tom Banks in the No. 15 jersey.
In other changes, flanker Chris Alcock is back in the starting XV after being rested last weekend while Jarrad Butler moves to the bench.
The Brumbies are in danger of slumping to the equal worst losing streak in the club’s history if they fall to the Kings in Port Elizabeth.
Larkham says it’s time for his side to find a balance between all-out attack and tactical rugby in the hope of reviving their season on a two-game tour to South Africa and Argentina
But to keep their lead at the top of the Australian conference, they will need to break a 210-minute try-scoring drought that has haunted them for the past three games.
The Brumbies have attempted to adopt an attack at all costs mentality, turning down easy penalty shots at goal to put all of their energy into scoring tries.
The Brumbies have been panned by critics and fans in recent years for kicking too often and not taking risks, but Larkham has given the players a licence to attack this year.
He backed players to take opportunities but conceded they would need to adapt against the South African style of kicking penalties to build pressure.
“We do need to have that balance. When you’re playing against New Zealand sides you have to be conscious of not trying to play too much because they’ll hurt you,” Larkham said.
“If you make one turnover teams can go the length of the field and score against you, that’s what happened to us against the [Johannesburg] Lions last week.
“It’s finding balance in how much we play and how much we kick, then making sure our kicks aren’t aimless. So we have to be better about that.
“I back the players to take advantage of what they see on the field, but we know we have to find some balance in our game as well.”
The Brumbies haven’t beaten an overseas side yet this season and have lost their past four games in a row. If they lose to the Kings, it will equal the Brumbies’ worst losing streak in Super Rugby history.
The added incentive of turning around their campaign is a tight Australian conference battle as four teams jostle for a guaranteed spot in the finals.
The Brumbies are three points ahead of the Queensland Reds while the NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels are also lurking just behind.
The Kings are at the bottom of their conference, but they have won more games than the Brumbies. However, the Kings’ ‘Africa two’ conference does not play any New Zealand teams this year.
The Brumbies haven’t scored a try since they showed glimpses of brilliance against the Wellington Hurricanes a month ago.
They had plenty of opportunities against the Lions last weekend, but failed to dent their defensive line.
Their attacking drought has left their season hanging by a thread, but back-up scrumhalf De Wet Roos said it wouldn’t affect their confidence.
“It’s just a mindset for the boys and staying fresh, moving on from the negatives,” Roos said.
“We probably just have to switch to attacking mindset once we’ve made a break, and just being ruthless by going for the jugular.
“Yes, we can come away with three points [from penalties], but that’s not what rugby is about from a spectator point of view. People want to see tries being scored so hopefully we’ve rectified that with the chats and being more ruthless when we get in [our] attacking 22 metres.”
SUPER RUGBY ROUND 13
Sunday: Southern Kings v ACT Brumbies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 3.30am (AEST). TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.
Brumbies team: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Aidan Toua, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jordan Smiler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Andrew Muirhead, 23. Andrew Smith.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.