FINALS CLASH: Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore leads out his team.
FINALS CLASH: Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore leads out his team. DEAN LEWINS

Brumbies planning to outsmart Highlanders

RUGBY: Brumbies captain Stephen Moore admits his team needs to play with more variation in attack against defending champions the Highlanders in tomorrow night’s Super Rugby quarter-final in Canberra.

The ACT outfit was beaten 23-10 last time the sides met, on April 30, despite the Brumbies enjoying 73% of possession.

“I think we need a bit more variation in our attack. We saw (in the loss in April) they (the Highlanders) don’t contribute a lot of people to the breakdown,” Moore said.

“They like to have a lot of people on their feet in the line and it forced us to play a lot.

“We need to be a bit smarter about where we play ... and who dominates the physicality is really important.”

The Highlanders boast an All Black-laden backline – with Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Smith, Matt Faddes and Waisake Naholo – but Moore is also concerned about containing the visitors’ quick and abrasive forward pack.

“I think they’ve picked a very fast forward pack and a No.8 (Luke Whitelock) in the second row – that shows the game they want to play,” he said.

“The breakdown will be key to the result.”

After recovering from illness, Highlanders co-captain Shane Christie is back at flanker, replacing James Lentjes.

Star Wallabies flanker David Pocock returns for the ACT after six weeks on the sidelines with a fractured eye socket.

Lock Rory Arnold (elbow) was ruled out after failing to recover from last week’s win over the Force.

Blake Enever will take Arnold’s spot in the starting side.

In other changes for the Brumbies, Robbie Coleman returns to the side after three weeks of strong performances for Queanbeyan in the Canberra competition.

He replaces James Dargaville.


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