Johannesburg - Wallaby star Adam Ashley-Cooper believes the Bulls are “parasites” in the Vodacom Super 14 and the only way to beat them is to play “parasitic rugby back at them.”
The Brumbies fullback may want to rethink his words come Saturday when his side face the defending champions at their Loftus Versfeld fortress, especially after the bizarre description which is likely to provide the Bulls with more motivation ahead of the game.
This outburst came as the Brumbies named a strong team for the clash, bringing back Matt Giteau and Rocky Elsom for the big game this weekend.
The Brumbies are at full strength for their clash, with Ashley-Cooper believing the game would be won in the back three because of the Bulls kicking game. However, if the fullback had watched last Friday’s game against the Cheetahs, the Bulls veered away from their kicking attack to a more structured, ball-in-hand attack that netted them six tries.
''They play such a parasitic game of footy, their game plan, they just rely on putting all the pressure on you and wait for you to slip up,'' Ashley-Cooper told the Canberra Times.
''They are parasites, as I like to describe the way they play. Morne Steyn and Fourie du Preez are such fantastic kickers so as a result, they get to play such good field position and use their dominant forwards to get over the advantage line and wait for opportunities to pop up. And then they sink their teeth in.
''...We need to give that back to them, to master our kicking game, to play in their half, to pile the pressure on them and play how and where we want to.''
With the team announcement, both Giteau and Elsom return after missing their side’s opening 24-15 win over the Western Force in Perth. Giteau will play his first game for the Brumbies since leaving them for the Force in 2007, returning in the off-season last year while Elsom will make his debut after playing for Leinster in Ireland last season. He previously played for the Waratahs.
Mitch Chapman moves to the Bench for Elsom, while Giteau replaces Matt Toomua at flyhalf.
The other change to the Brumbies’ starting line-up sees tighthead prop Salesi Ma’afu replace Guy Shepherdson in the front row.
Brumbies coach said he was pleased to put the two senior Wallabies into the side ahead of such an important clash.
“The Bulls at Loftus [Versfeld] presents a significant challenge for any side in the competition,” he said. “There’s an appreciation within the side that we need to step up from where we finished last week and we’ve identified where we need to improve against a quality Bulls outfit.
“We certainly need to be more physical in the contest and I think Rocky will help us achieve that. In saying that, Mitch was one of our hardest working forwards in the Force game but given Rocky’s returning from an injury, it made sense to put him straight into the game after the warm-up without giving him a chance to cool down on the bench.
“To be honest, we’re in a very blessed situation to have four quality back rowers vying for three positions.
“Matt [Giteau] will also bring further class to our backline. It’s a tough call for Matty Toomua who’s been excellent for us this year and he’s formed a great combination with Christian [Lealiifano] at 12 but Gits is a world-class player that you can’t leave out of your side.”
Brumbies: 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper; 14. Pat McCabe, 13. Stirling Mortlock, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Francis Fainifo; 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Josh Valentine; 8. Stephen Hoiles (capt), 7. George Smith, 6. Rocky Elsom, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Justin Harrison, 3. Salesi Ma’afu, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander.
Substitutes: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Guy Shepherdson, 18. Ben Hand, 19. Mitchell Chapman, 20. Patrick Phibbs, 21. Matt Toomua, 22. Tyrone Smith.