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Larkham calls on Brumbies to bounce back

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Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham has called on his players to bounce back from their Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders.

The Brumbies travel to New Zealand this week to play Super Rugby champions the Highlanders who will also be coming off a loss.

Canberra’s Brumbies have lost their last two matches to New Zealand teams and Larkham wants his players to bounce back at Invercargill from the recent results.

“We say it every week that every game’s important but we certainly need a lift out of the boys now, ” Larkham said.

“Losing two of our last three is certainly not a record that we’re proud of so we’ll be working hard this week but we’ll get a really good balance, make sure we’re getting our preparation right both on and off the field. ”

The Brumbies face a crucial period over the next three matches as after the Highlanders they play the Bulls (GIO Stadium, 6 May) and the Melbourne Rebels (AAMI Park, 13 May).

Larkham is mindful of the Highlander’s skills and the and the strong talent they possess.

“There probably a little more structured than most of the New Zealand sides and we’ll address that today [at training], ” he said.

“They kick the ball a lot and they’ve got really good kick-chasers. Patrick Osborne and Ben Smith in particular chase the contestable kicks really well, and Aaron Smith is a great controller around the ruck.

“It’s a similar proposition every week, every New Zealand side that you come up against is chocked full of All Blacks and it’s no different this week.

“They’re a very physical side, they bring a hard edge to the game and we’ll try and match it this week. ”

Larkham will have a selection headache to solve before the squad leaves tomorrow due to injuries to key players.

Joe Tomane is out for up to eight weeks and co-captain Stephen Moore is recovering day-to-day from a serious cork to his calf muscle following injuries sustained in the loss to the Crusaders.

Larkham told reporters in Canberra yesterday that either Nigel Ah Wong, Lausii Taliauli or James Dargaville is expected to replace Tomane.

“There’s three outside backs who haven’t really had an opportunity to get on the field this year; Nigel Ah Wong, James Dargaville and Lausii Taliauli who’s been playing a bit of club footy for the Royals, ” he said.

“They’ve all been pushing for a spot and realistically we’re looking at their performance this afternoon [at training] to make a decision on either Ah Wong or Dargaville. ”

David Pocock is expected to be named in the starting side in a major boost for the side. Pocock has missed the Brumbies past two matches due to a three-week suspension.

“We’re trying to get our balance right off and on the field and Pocock brings really good balance to both, ” Larkham said.

“You see him on the paddock, when he plays he’s one of the world’s best so he’s invaluable to have out there. ”

The trip will provide an opportunity for the team to regroup following last Sunday’s disappointing 40-14 loss at home to the Crusaders.

“We found that when we went to South Africa there was some really good bonding that occurred over, ” Larkham said.

“We’ve been together now and we’ve worked pretty hard the last couple of weeks.

“I think this will be a really good trip for the boys to get away from it and get some focus back on the team environment.

“What we’ve been striving for this year is to be working really hard but also enjoy the journey along the way and touring gives you that opportunity. “

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