Canberra - Brumbies coach Jake White has warned his young side to
prepare for a baptism of fire during their two-match safari in South
The Brumbies fly out of Canberra on Monday, and White expects the rugby-mad South Africans to try to unsettle his youthful squad.
White guided the Springboks to victory at the 2007 World
Cup and is preparing to be heavily targeted when he returns to his
After the Brumbies' crucial 37-6 win over Melbourne
Rebels on Saturday, White addressed the players on the reception they
are likely to receive before their clash against the in-form Bulls at a
hostile Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
''Let me warn you it's going to be massive, they're going
to go for me I'm going to tell you right now,'' White said. ''They're
going to try and unsettle the squad by having some sort of dig at me,
whether it's that I've deserted them … I don't really know what they'll
try and do.
''But they'll use whatever they can, not only to bring
more people to the stadium but also to promote the game and to harp up
the whole thing,'' he said.
While White knows what to expect in South Africa, he
admitted preparing his troops looms as a big coaching challenge. Only a
handful of the young Brumbies squad have ever played in South Africa.
''That's why I'm so glad this win [against Melbourne]
comes now, because it helps me explain to the players what's coming,''
White said. ''What I will do in our team meetings is just pre-warn them
about what's coming, so they're not overawed.
''But I will also explain the positives. The reality is
they're going to a rugby nation now who love their rugby, and will do
everything they can to make sure they put the opposition under fire.
''Nothing untoward, nothing illegal, they just love their
rugby, they want to win and will put pressure wherever they can. It's
something we have to handle, and that's the uniqueness of going back to
South Africa, as a South African coach, with a team that doesn't
White's return to South Africa will be billed as a homecoming, but the man himself insists it should not be viewed that way.
''I'm going back to where I was born and where I coached,
but my home now is Canberra … . I don't want them to think, as in the
players, that I'm going home. My home is now here.''
The Brumbies' bonus point win over the Rebels, their
fourth victory in seven matches, allowed them to retain their position
atop the Australian conference.
But White said the clash against the Bulls would be far and away his team's stiffest test yet.
''Playing the Bulls at Loftus, they'll be saying to
themselves they want to beat the Brumbies and be top of the log [South
African conference] this time next week, so it's massive for us.
''But this is what you play rugby for, you play rugby to
play in front of 40 000 people in stadiums that were built for rugby
union. That's why we play the game, to contest ourselves against that
sort of opposition.''