Brumbies backs equal of 2004 - Roff
February 20, 2014
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview the weekend's Super Rugby action%]
Joe Roff believes the current crop of Brumbies backs are on the verge of eclipsing the star-studded 2004 backline that took out the Super Rugby championship.
That 2004 backline was the greatest an Australian Super Rugby franchise has seen, featuring George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Matt Giteau, Stirling Mortlock, Clyde Rathbone, Mark Gerrard and Roff himself. In total, the seven of them notched 548 Tests over the course of their careers.
But Roff says the current outfit, including Wallabies Nic White, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, Christian Lealiifano, Tevita Kuridrani, Pat McCabe, Jesse Mogg and Test star-in-waiting Henry Speight are just as good. He highlighted the combination between White, Toomua and Lealiifano as "world class", just as was the partnership of Gregan and Larkham - who is now the side's head coach.
"It's as exciting as a backline - and a settled backline - that the Brumbies have ever seen," Roff said.
"These guys will now take it to the next level."
Roff didn't speak lightly, as 2004 saw him farewell the franchise with a fairy tale 47-38 win over the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final - scoring a double to set a record for most tries in the competition. "At the time we became Wallabies we were still young rough country kids and no one had given anyone from ACT a chance to become a Wallaby," Roff said.
"In isolation, a single player in that  Brumbies backline wouldn't succeed or become a world-class player unless they had world-class players around him. And that's what's exciting for me. They're there now; there's a whole backline of them."
Roff said he had never seen more depth in a backline than in the current Brumbies squad, which also boasts a resurgent Rathbone as well as reliable performers Andrew Smith and Robbie Coleman.
"There have been a lot of lean seasons where that's been the killer for the Brumbies - a couple of injuries and no depth to fill the roles. "Any team that actually does aspire to a championship needs to have players who can play in the final of Super Rugby from one through to 28 in the squad."
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