Brumbies not worried by White's return
May 4, 2014
Pat McCabe is expecting a physical affair when the Sharks visit Canberra © Getty Images
Jake White's return to Canberra looks less like the sub-plot of next weekend's top-of-the-table Super Rugby clash between the Brumbies and the Sharks and more like the defining narrative. White's first visit since quitting the Brumbies last year was always going to be notable but, with his new and old sides duelling at the top of the standings, there's more on the line than ego and pride.
The Sharks have opened up a five-point lead following their 22-16 win over the Melbourne Rebels and the Brumbies' 40-20 loss at the Crusaders, but Brumbies centre Pat McCabe doesn't think White's successful two-year stint in Canberra gives him any special knowledge that might help stretch that advantage.
"I don't think there's too many secrets about the way we play," McCabe told AAP. "I think it's just going to be a very physical contest and one that we are going to need to be up for to be competitive."
White's teams are known for their territory-based football, with staunch defence, sound set piece play and a strong kicking game combined with some expansive finishing in the opposition's half. Asked if the Sharks' style bore any resemblance to what the Brumbies produced under White, McCabe said: "It's quite similar. Their set piece is incredibly strong and they kick their goals and accumulate points on you. We're going to have to improve our discipline from tonight and just be a lot more clinical in our execution."
The Brumbies' defeat in Christchurch marked the first time they conceded 40 points since the final round of 2011, with ill discipline more costly than defensive lapses. They were only outscored three tries to two but gave up 21 points in penalties, one more point than they scored as a team.
"There's a fine line between going hard at the ball and infringing," McCabe said. "We were maybe just a little bit too eager and probably gave away a few more penalties than we would have liked. But I think that's an easy thing to fix, and it's something which we'll obviously have a good look at during the week."
McCabe admits next weekend was always going to be a hugely anticipated occasion.
"One at the start of the year that I think everyone pencilled in on their calendar as a big game, and that's been the case."