Brumbies Get in Early to Bounce Back
After a disappointing Super 15 Rugby season this year, the Brumbies have kicked off their pre-season training months ahead of the other clubs in the competition, head coach Jack White hopeful the Canberra-based venture can bounce back to form in the 2012 Super Rugby season.
World Cup winning mentor White only joined the club in the ACT this month, but is already making his mark scheduling an ambitions seven-month schedule to get the Brumbies back in the top eight next year.
“The exciting thing for us, which is similar to 1996 (inaugural Super Rugby season), is it is a blank sheet,” White said.
“I’m lucky I’ve got a four-year tenure.
“That gives me an opportunity to build a team hopefully with the same sort of standards that 1996 started with and the success and results they attained in the time they were together.
“I come with a fresh mind in terms of giving everyone a fair chance.
“That means that everyone who puts the effort in now is going to get a fair shout come January / February when we start picking teams to play in the competition.”
While players from a number of the other Super Rugby clubs are enjoying a break, the Brumby boys are back in work already with White arranging training sessions in Sydney and Canberra during the entire off-season.
“It’s been going for a while now, I’ve been unofficially working behind the scenes in recruitment but it’s nice to be in Canberra and to get to see the players face to face,” White said last week.
“The only thing the players have got to think about is what it felt like not to do well this year…I don’t want to labour too much on what happened this year because it’s irrelevant – there’s a massive change in personnel and massive change in the way we will play.”
White is also in the process of finalising his 30-man Brumbies squad, saying he was pleased with how the recruitment process was progressing.
“It’s the first time the ARU has stipulated 30-man quads with five fringe players, it’s the first time where players are all on an equal footing – some players are going to get released from other franchises and I don’t want to have signed and sealed the whole squad before we know what’s happening in the other squads,” he said.
“You might find that there are some players who are under contract now who aren’t going to be able to renegotiate – that leaves the door open for the Brumbies.
“You’d like to think (squad finalisation would be) sooner rather than later, but at this stage I’m happy with where we are at with the squad.”
One player White has admitted to having approached to play for the Brumbies in the 2012 Super Rugby season is Bulls utility forward, South African Danie Rossouw.
A 45-capped Test player for the Springboks, Rossouw would be the perfect lock to fill the void left by exiting Brumbies Mark Chisholm (going to France) and Mitch Chapman (heading to Japan) according to White.
Rossouw, who White coached during the 2007 Rugby World Cup, is currently contracted for Japanese club Suntory.
Suntory coach Eddie Jones served as White’s assistant-coach during the Rugby World Cup 2007 campaign and continues to work as a consultant for the newly appointed Brumbies coach, making a release of Rossouw a non-issue.
“That’s one thing we would obviously look at, but Danie has to commit to it,” White said.
“He has just finished a Super Rugby campaign. He is going to Japan.
“I want Eddie to be happy with the fact there is a win-win for him as well.
“A guy like Danie Rossow, if we could get a deal, that would be fantastic.”
With the 2011 Rugby World Cup looming, White said he had trouble getting confirmation from a number of other South African and New Zealand test players that he had also spoken to about signing with the Brumbies.
“I approached a couple of the South African boys and I approached a couple of the Kiwi boys. Top internationals,” White said.
“But they are sceptical about putting their hand up in case they jeopardise their (World Cup) selections.”
The New Zealand-hosted Rugby World Cup 2011 kicks off in September with the All Blacks playing Tonga at Eden Park and continues through until October 23.
“It would be fair to say in Australia generally there are not too many second-rowers around,” White continued.
“I found in Australia a lot of second-rowers are very young.
“I’m trying to get a more experienced guy.
“I’ll wait and see who I can get to fulfil that role.”