The Brumbies aren't going to take any unnecessary chances against the Force in Canberra on Friday, says BRENTON CHELIN.
There are a number of teams in and around the play-off spots who haven't quite reached their potential this season – the Brumbies fall into this category. Last year's beaten finalists have looked good in patches, but look more like pretenders to the throne than true contenders. Nic White is one of the few players in their ranks who has performed at a consistently high level throughout the campaign though, as exhibited in his stats for the season (see below). His form with the Brumbies has seen him usurp Will Genia as the Wallabies' premier scrumhalf, a position which he has solidified with his performances against France during the June Tests. He will win his 50th Super Rugby cap on Friday and another assured performance is expected. White has shown great composure for the Brumbies this season, at the base of the ruck, with ball in hand and most importantly, with the boot.
The last time these teams met, the Brumbies blew the Force off the park early on as they raced into a 27-0 lead after just 24 minutes. Unfortunately they were unable to add to that tally as the Force produced a much better second-half showing before eventually going down 27-14. That match is a reflection on the Brumbies' season so far, where they have tended to fade towards the end of matches. In fact if you take into account only the final quarter of matches, the Brumbies have the third worst points difference (-47) in Super Rugby.
In team news, the Brumbies have made four changes to their starting line-up. Matt Toomua returns from injury to take his place outside of White, while Clyde Rathbone slots in on the left wing. Up front, Wallaby Sam Carter returns at lock while hooker Josh Mann-Rea will make his first start for the Brumbies.
Meanwhile, the Force have made just two changes to the side that defeated the Reds last weekend. Brynard Stander gets just his second start of the season in place of the injured Hugh McMeniman, while Solomoni Rasolea gets a start at outside centre.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Brumbies 6, Force 5, Draw 1
In Canberra: Brumbies 2, Force 3
WHITE'S STATS THAT MATTER
12 – The number of try assists he has had this season (Rank 1)
873 – The number of passes he has made this season (Rank 3)
20 – The number of offloads he has made this season (Rank 7)
108 – The number of kicks from hand he has made this season (Rank 9)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App
Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 10 Matt Toomua, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Leon Power, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs : 16 Ruaidhri Murphy, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Joe Tomane, 23 Pat McCabe.
Force – 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Solomoni Rasolea, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles,1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Dillyn Leyds/Sias Ebersohn.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images