Moana Pasifika wary of Brumbies evolving game

h 00123431

Moana Pasifika assistant coach Tom Coventry said the Brumbies are playing differently in 2024. They had a tradition of driving through their lineout and using box kicks on top of wingers to trap teams in corners for their set piece to get to work. 

But he has seen more expansion in their game, which wasn't surprising with Stephen Larkham coaching the side. However, there was a fallback to old styles in their armoury when required.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they're finding out a little about how they want to play this year. I still see strength in their pack."

He wondered if there were still some issues with moving the ball before they did the work upfront.

"Hopefully, we can catch them in a weak moment where they've decided to move the ball, and we've got the numbers out there to knock them over. That would be a good sign for us."

The Brumbies have been able to get the ball to speedster Corey Toole, who has been one of the faster backs on display. While fellow wing Andy Muirhead is out with injury, his replacement, Ollie Sapsford, and fullback Tom Wright still represent a defensive challenge for Moana Pasifika.

"What they've done down the edges, particularly in the first 20-30 minutes of games, has been pretty good. But we've got [wing] Kyren Taumoefolau, and he's no slug on the left wing, and [centre] Pepesana Patafilo is pretty quick.

"We take that into account. The main thing is looking after our possession and trying to slow down their ball. We've been talking about getting players in and over the ruck and making it difficult for them to get front foot position. That's key for us."

Taumoefolau's try last week highlighted his potential, and what has impressed is that he is still to play NPC and came out of an Academy and straight into last year's Tongan World Cup team.

"He's rapid and continues to get better. And his confidence will grow the more opportunities he gets to play among people like Christian and Julian [Savea]."

One reason for the side's advances in 2024 was that their preparation had improved, and players were taking advantage of the video analysis prepared for them on opponents by their analysis team.

"It's about knowing the athletes they will mark up against one-on-one.

"When we talk about preparation, it's about knowing your role within the team, the structures change. Teams are doing such good analysis on you that you need to stay ahead of the game. There're lots of little changes and tweaks that you need to be across."

Preparation also involved looking after their bodies while on tour, how they were eating, and stretching each day. New professionals had to learn it when coming into the environment.

"We've been trying to teach the boys as much as we can, and with the help of all our senior players who have been playing Super Rugby for a while, guys like Christian [Leali'ifano] and Sekope [Kefu] have been awesome in helping that.

"They're still good pros in the last light of their careers, but they still have a huge amount of influence over how our young men learn. We're trying to get everyone to learn and continue to get better every week. It can be onerous when the boys haven't had that before."


View all