Chiefs lock Ross Filipo says the Brumbies are Australia’s version of the Crusaders, and will provide a real challenge when the two teams meet in Canberra on Friday.
While the Brumbies have some way to go to match the Crusaders’ seven Super Rugby titles, the Australian conference leaders do play a similarly direct brand of rugby.
Last weekend was a ferocious, intense and bruising battle for the Chiefs against the Crusaders, and Filipo is expecting more of the same against the Brumbies, although preferably without the same one-point defeat.
“They are very gritty because they are pretty direct,” Filipo said of the Brumbies.
“They’ve got good ball carriers, good cleaners. Something we’ve spoken about is that they rely on quick ball, so the ruck is going to be an area of concern for us and how we get into that and make them have slow ball.”
The match will be Filipo’s first start of the season after off-season shoulder surgery and an appearance off the bench against the Melbourne Rebels.
His inclusion, for the suspended Michael Fitzgerald, is one of six changes made by coach Dave Rennie as the heavy injury toll continues ahead of the inconsistent Chiefs’ seventh game of a nine-game stretch.
Filipo is well aware that the lineout, which has the worst success rate in the competition, must improve to compete with the Brumbies strength in that area.
The Chiefs have dropped young hooker Rhys Marshall, who has struggled with his lineout throwing, for the experienced Mahonri Schwalger, who returns from injury.
“I’ve played a lot with Mo (Schwalger) over the years and we have a good understanding of each other,” said Filipo.
“So we’re hoping this week we can maybe pull something together and give the backs some quality ball from the lineout.”
“We’ve got to be basic in our call and stuff like that but we’ve got to be wily and making sure we’re doing things at a good tempo and not giving the Brumbies an opportunity to spoil our pill because they are a good defensive side.
“They are up there with the Crusaders in terms of lineout defence. It’s going to be another difficult week in that area for us.”