Jake's Brumbies in training
Canberra - A boot camp, a sand pit and a determination to erase their last-round
meltdown - the Brumbies are back at training and coach Jake White
hopes a renewed hunger will drive his team into the Super Rugby finals.
Three months after the young Brumbies fell at the last hurdle
in their finals quest, the team started pre-season training yesterday
with speed, strength and endurance tests at the AIS.
The Brumbies' Test representatives weren't exempt from the
lung-bursting session with David Pocock, Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore
all being pushed to the limit just days before heading to Europe on
the Wallabies' spring tour.
It's White's second season in charge of the Brumbies and to
prevent his players from getting stale and bored, the South African is
contemplating a boot camp at the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
There is also a sand pit at Brumbies headquarters for wrestling sessions and rehabilitation running.
''You don't want the players to be bored and feel as if it's the same old, same old,'' White said.
''Maybe we look at ways we can revitalise them in the
pre-season, maybe that means going away for a day, team-building
exercises or we've got a great army base at Duntroon so we'll look at
''We want the players to have fun and not get stale.''
The Brumbies have filled their 35-man roster with White
adding scrumhalf Mark Swanepoel and outside back Stephan Van Der Walt
to the last two spots available on the extended player squad.
Despite a large chunk of the squad having surgery in the off-season, 25 of the 35 contracted players have started training.
It didn't take long for marquee recruit Pocock to impress.
The former Western Force skipper has been training with the Brumbies for
the past month after injuring his knee playing for the Wallabies.
But in a sign the flanker is back to full fitness, Brumbies
athletic performance director Dean Benton described Pocock as the
''ultimate rugby machine''.
Pocock will battle with Michael Hooper for the Wallabies' No 7 jersey on the spring tour.
Hooper's speed and endurance are two of his strongest assets
and Pocock matched the former Brumby's fastest 10-metre sprint in
White spent most of the off-season in South Africa and only returned to Canberra last weekend.
Benton - one of the leading athletic performance directors in
Australia - is confident two pre-seasons with the young Brumbies will
have the players in peak physical conditions.
''We've made gains slightly quicker than I thought we would and this group is one of the best I've worked with,'' Benton said.
''This pre-season will get us to a stage where we can match it with the more physical teams.''
New recruit South African lock Etienne Oosthuizen arrived in Canberra three days ago.
''It's a new beginning with me and I'm working with one of
the best coaching staff in the world,'' the former Johannesburg Lions
''The vibe is the same, everyone is excited and a bit scared, but that's part of pre-season.
''I don't know how the system works yet, but I'm here to learn.''