Jones plans to keep the Reds guessing
May 5, 2000
Eddie Jones has added a touch of mystery by promising tactical surprises from his ACT Brumbies in the key Super 12 rugby clash with Queensland here tomorrow.
No team has shown the capacity to keep opponents guessing like coach Jones' innovative and competition-leading Brumbies. Their variety of attack has been without equal and the lateral thinking from the Brumbies' planners seemingly knows no bounds, even extending to such successful ploys as using centre Stirling Mortlock to field kick-offs among the forwards.
Jones' has worked on some new moves this week, as confirmed by his players, but he may or may not have been playing mind games today when he described them as "not Brumbies-like".
"We'll see how they go tomorrow night," Jones said.
Brumbies halfback George Gregan admitted nerves have been a greater factor than usual in the lead-up to the game with so much at stake and new faces to fit into both injury-hit teams. The Reds must win the match and secure a bonus point to keep hopes of advancing to the semi-finals, while Brumbies are close to clinching a top two spot and a home semi in front of their parochial supporters.
"Everyone's a little anxious, which is a good sign I think," Gregan said.
The Brumbies won't name their starting side until shortly before kick-off but Jones confirmed 19-year-old former Australian Schools representative George Smith would likely get his first start at flanker in place of injured skipper Brett Robinson. And local player Radike Samo will probably start in the lock spot most recently filled by injured Owen Finegan before handing over to former Wallaby Warwick Waugh who was drafted in this week.
Gregan said the injuries had forced several of the ACT's younger squad members to take an unexpected early step up.
"There's a few players playing their first Super 12 game, which is pretty important and it's always a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, but that always a good sign if you channel that in the right direction," he said.
With Wallaby spots likely up for grabs following the clash, Gregan said previous form was irrelevant when two Australian Super 12 sides met.
"They're different games," he said. "At the same time it's important that you try and focus on it just as another game and you try and find your pattern."
The Wallaby half said three days of heavy rain would be unlikely to unsettle the expansive ACT backline by favouring Queensland's powerful forwards.
"It's always a good surface (at Bruce Stadium), it drains well, so I don't think it'll be too heavy and I think that'll certainly help us," he said.
Jones said the Brumbies would have preferred a drier pitch, but Queensland had the added pressure of having to produce a bonus-point performance.
"They've got to score four tries in 80 minutes and no side has done that against us this year, so that's the great challenge for them," he said.
ACT (likely): Andrew Walker, Mark Bartholomeusz, Stirling Mortlock, Rod Kafer, Joe Roff, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Jim Williams, George Smith, Ipolito Fenukitau, Troy Jaques, Radike Samo, Patricio Noriega, Jeremy Paul, Bill Young. Res: Graeme Bond, Craig McMullen, Travis Hall, Peter Ryan, Warwick Waugh, Angus Scott, Tom Murphy.
QUEENSLAND: Chris Latham, Rick Nalatu, Daniel Herbert, Tim Horan, Nathan Williams, Shane Drahm, Sam Cordingley, Toutai Kefu, Mark Murray, Matt Cockbain, Mark Connors, John Eales, Fletcher Dyson, Michael Foley, Glenn Panoho. Res: Steve Kefu, Richard Graham, Jacob Rauluni, Scott Fava, Nathan Sharpe, Sean Hardman, Nic Stiles.
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