Brumbies ready to take on a new Force in season opener

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The ACT Brumbies during a break in play at a recent trial game at Tuggeranong. Picture: Andrew Mathieson

THE battle lines have been drawn far and deep behind enemy territory for the ACT Brumbies to hit the ground running for their Super Rugby AU opener of the year. 

Just 10 days after clashing with the same Western Force on home soil at Viking Park amid their only preseason trial, the reigning champions will be looking to give little away against the side that failed to win a game in last year’s return to the Australian domestic season.

The tough one-point loss early on has already indicated the new line-up out west that has included four Argentineans, two All Blacks and an Irish international fullback will be set for the litmus test on Friday night (February 19) in front of their Perth fans.

Brumbies backrower Tom Cusack said the ACT squad is very wary of the Force, refreshed from a clear start and better perspective to the year ahead.

The West Australians had only been called into the reshuffled five-team competition weeks ahead of its July kickoff last year after Super Rugby that ran through New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan was cancelled altogether following the outbreak of coronavirus.

“It’s extremely dangerous going over there, with the calibre of players they have, but we have a quality bunch as well,” Cusack said.

“We’ve been able to build a nice team unity and they’re brought in a star-studded team over a couple of months.

“Whether the cohesion’s there as a team or not we’re still yet to see.

“But with not much sport played and not many restrictions on crowds, it’s going to be pretty loud, pretty daunting.”

The Brumbies squad have been drawn back inside the ACT borders over the past six weeks to ensure that no complications can arise from state restrictions.

Captain Allan Alaalatoa was forced to relocate from the other side of the NSW border.

Cusack, a former Canberra Marist College star, said he will feel relieved when the players run onto the ground after interruptions and delays to last year’s campaign.

“It’s hard not to (think about the risks), especially in Perth when you hear of the cases where you fly over and whilst you’re in the air you hear announcements,” Cusack said.

“That’s playing in the back of your mind, but you have to remove that and come into your own little bubble as a squad.”

The match will commence at 10pm AEST on Friday.

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