Mallett backs the Brumbies' style
May 25, 2000

While the ACT and Crusaders exchange shots over illegal tactics ahead to Saturday's Super 12 final, the Brumbies have received support from South African coach Nick Mallett.

The Springbok coach described their style of play as the best in the world and he wants the Springboks to emulate Brumbies rugby. Rather than breaking the laws, the ACT had adapted to changes in the rules, he said.

"The Brumbies have shown how to use the new laws to good effect and you must remember that in Stephen Larkham and George Gregan they have a halfback combination that is one of the best in the world," Mallett told the Pretoria News. "The way they control the tempo, the pace of the game is frightening."

ACT coach Eddie Jones said it was nice to hear some compliments for a change after it had become "flavour of the month" to snipe at the Brumbies' style. He promised their continually evolving pattern of play would reach another level at Bruce Stadium on Saturday night.

"It's very nice for him to say so," Jones said. "Style of play is a transient thing. Even in the finals, the style of play changes and the key is that we keep evolving and that's what we plan to do this week.

"We've got a certain style we play every week, we adjust it to the conditions, and we'd like to finish off this week with our best performance of the year. Our game is one of high risk and that's the way we're going to play on Saturday."

Crusaders coach Robbie Deans this week accused the Brumbies of illegal scrummaging and use of decoy runners, while Jones returned the barbs with claims that the New Zealanders sent in additional men to their lineouts.

The Crusaders were due in Canberra on Friday night with their hopes for a hat-trick of Super 12 titles boosted by the return of second-rower Norm Maxwell who missed last week's semi against the Highlanders with a calf injury. All Black halfback Justin Marshall, however, has not recovered from a similar injury and was not named in the Crusaders' team.

"Maxwell is an outstanding player and he'll certainly give them a lot of drive," Jones said.

But Jones said the Crusaders would not lose anything at the scrum base with former New Zealand under-21 halfback Ben Hurst replacing Marshall. Jones said last week's struggle to elude the Cats with three late tries for a flattering 28-5 semi final win had actually been a timely warning.

"It was probably our worst performance in the Super 12. It was a combination of the Cats defending extremely well and we were quite nervous," he said. "We were a little bit too conservative and worried about losing and didn't play our natural game and that was reflected in the hesitancy of our game.

"This week, we hope that will be different. When you don't play well, it's invigorating, it invigorates you to lift to greater heights the next week."

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