White confident Brumbies can bury Sydney jinx
ACT Brumbies coach Jake White is confident his team can buck their poor Super Rugby record in Sydney and beat the New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday to all but seal the Australian conference title.
The twice-champion Brumbies have never won at the Olympic stadium and triumphed just once in Sydney, but will have high hopes of overcoming a Waratahs team which has lost their last six matches.
Former Springboks coach White, who has turned the ailing province around this season, was on Thursday able to name an unchanged side from that which beat the Western Force on the back of four first-half tries last weekend.
"At this stage there's still a lot of rugby left for us, potentially we still have four games to play so in that regard it's great to have been able to keep the same team together," White said in a news release.
"To be fair to those boys they had a very strong first half last Saturday night."
The Brumbies are five points ahead of the Super Rugby champion Queensland Reds going into the last two weeks of the competition and host the ailing Auckland Blues in their final match next weekend.
Despite the Waratahs having long fallen out of the playoff picture, White will be aware that it was a core of their players who helped Australia to a 3-0 series sweep over Six Nations champions Wales last month.
"They've got 1069 Super Rugby caps and probably 400 test caps, 11 Wallabies and they are a formidable opponent," he added.
"Even though they've made some changes to their halves, they still have Wallabies on the bench and will pose a massive challenge for us.
"We've got to focus on executing well, doing the things we've done well all year both defensively and in attack and things should take care of themselves."
The Waratahs have handed a first start to New Zealand-born scrumhalf Grayson Hart, the nephew of former All Blacks coach John, and brought fullback Bernard Foley up to start at flyhalf for the encounter.
Berrick Barnes, who was highly impressive for the Wallabies against Wales last month, moves from flyhalf to inside centre, while the back three is made up of internationals Lachie Turner, Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
The Brumbies have less pedigree in their backline but centre Pat McCabe is now a Wallaby regular, while Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight and Robbie Coleman have all caused problems for opposing defences this season.