The depleted Brumbies are backing their resilience and never-say-die spirit as they eye a famous against-the-odds Super Rugby triumph over the NSW Waratahs.
The Brumbies suffered yet another setback, with centre Andrew Smith – who had been called up as cover for Wallabies midfielder Matt Toomua – being ruled out of Saturday night’s derby with a hamstring strain.
Smith’s scratching leaves last year’s runners-up with almost a dozen players unavailable, but coaching director Laurie Fisher said it was business as usual ahead of the Brumbies’ must-win showdown at ANZ Stadium.
“Nothing changes in terms of how we play the game. It only changes the personnel and all the guys have been in the program for quite a while and know what’s required,” Fisher said on Friday.
“It’s a huge challenge; 11 players unavailable for selection, six of those are Wallabies.
“So we can’t shy away from the fact it’s a massive ask, but the group is really comfortable that they’re up to the challenge.”
With Smith out, Robbie Coleman will likely start at inside centre with former Wallaby Clyde Rathbone to move to the wing, though head coach Stephen Larkham won’t make a final decision until game day.
Fisher said the Brumbies still believed they could win despite their injury crisis.
“All we can control is what’s in our hands and so we’ll put 23 players out there – and 23 good footballers – and we’ll give it a red-hot crack,” he said.
“We’ve got systems and knowledge in place over a number of years; we’ve got tremendous self belief; we’ve got great fighting spirit and plenty of class in the team.
“So we’ll give a great account of ourselves.”
Fisher is understood to be on the move from the Brumbies to link with former Wallabies defensive coach John Muggleton as head coach at Gloucester in the UK.
But on Friday he refused to confirm or deny any such deal had been struck.