Canberra - Ringo Starr is touring Australia but Brumbies coach Jake White has
always been a John Lennon man, suggesting Ewen McKenzie is guilty of
''mind games'' as their Super Rugby opener looms on Saturday night.
It all began with a training drill gone wrong at Ballymore late last
week, when James Horwill's wretched run of luck with injuries continued.
A fellow player fell on his ankle and his involvement in the opening
weekend was immediately in doubt, with the Reds eventually ruling him
out on Tuesday morning.
White is having none of it, accusing the Reds of throwing smoke bombs
ahead of the first-round meeting at Canberra Stadium and suggesting
subterfuge is now standard operating procedure at Ballymore.
play; they'll all be in,'' White said. ''Last year they said that Quade
Cooper got injured in the hotel and wasn't going to run out and then he
ended up playing the whole game, (won 13-12 by the Reds in Canberra).
''It's all mind games now. That's the way the Reds operate. They come up
with, 'This guy's not available, that guy could play, this guy is
sick.' We have to focus on what we want to get right and that's a win in
Canberra on Saturday.''
If Super Rugby was after some more fire between the provinces, whose
off-field exchanges are usually rated for general consumption, White
appears happy to oblige.
McKenzie didn't want to buy into the discussion but said Horwill's
injury was genuine and he would most likely be back for the Suncorp
Stadium grudge match against the Waratahs on Saturday week. ''As we've
done all off-season we've taken a cautious approach with James and his
rehab and on this occasion we all agreed it would be best to give him
another week on the sideline,'' McKenzie said.
Horwill leaves a sizeable hole in the Reds scrum but more concerning is
yet another injury for the captain, who will hand over control to prop
A painful hamstring injury means Horwill hasn't played a game of Super
Rugby in nine months and he would have dearly loved to take the field in
Canberra before meeting the Waratahs in Queensland's first outing at
Suncorp in 2013.
The experienced Adam Wallace-Harrison will likely join Rob Simmons in
the Reds' second row against the Brumbies, who will feature the return
of Clyde Rathbone and Wallabies openside David Pocock.
Slipper said the Reds were intent on starting the season well after
enduring a horrible run with injuries last year, when players in key
positions were falling like flies.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies grew in stature under White and missed the
finals by a whisker, finishing second in the conference and seventh
overall after a cut-throat final round.
''It's hugely important [to start well], '' Slipper said. ''They did
have a great year. Everyone saw that, and we were lucky to get on top of
them at the very end there.
''Coming into the first round, everyone wants to start well. It's
crucial to start a campaign well and we'll be going out this weekend to