Sydney - The Brumbies are using intermittent booze bans to boost their
hopes of making the Super Rugby finals and help them chase two wins in
Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen revealed the squad has agreed to
stay away from alcohol until the senior players decide otherwise in the
While the Canberra Raiders deal with Josh Dugan and Blake
Ferguson's latest off-field indiscretions, the Brumbies are using their
own player-driven policies to fuel their play-off ambitions.
Mowen is on a self-imposed booze ban for the entire Super Rugby season as he chases Wallabies selection.
And his team-mates have periodically joined in as they prepare
for the sternest test of their season so far - a clash against the
Sharks at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The Brumbies players abstained from alcohol for the first two weeks of the season and secured two wins before their bye.
When senior players met to discuss the two-game trip to South
Africa, they decided to make week one alcohol free. There's no set time
frame and the policy won't be extended for every game of the year.
If the Brumbies score a win in Durban for the first time in six years, the players could be given the green light to relax.
But Mowen said the trip to South Africa was all about
business. ''Basically the way our culture works around [alcohol] is that
we always decide [if guys drink] determined on how we're going,'' Mowen
''On these types of tours … there's not that much drinking
anyway. But if we say we're off it until otherwise, the guys are really
good at adhering to that and it makes it easy.
''We might stop on Saturday night, but we might not come out in the shape we like and we might stick to it.
''The guys understand that whatever decision is made is done for the best performance.
''When you're trying to achieve something, it's not a danger for us and that's nice … this group is extremely motivated.''
The Brumbies spent their first day in South Africa adjusting to the time zone after 20 hours of travel on Monday.
Some players hit the golf course, others went go-karting and some relaxed at the team hotel.
But their bid for success started when coach Jake White put them through a tough training session to start the week.
The Sharks were finalists last year but finished runners-up to the Chiefs.
They have started their season with three wins, but have failed to score a try in the past two weeks.
The Brumbies are also undefeated after three games and sit at
the top of the Australian conference. They have conceded just 25 points
in three games - the least in the competition.
And their aim for the next two weeks is simple - win both games against the Sharks and the Cape Town Stormers.
The Brumbies won one of their two games in South Africa last year.
But that one victory against the Johannesburg Lions was the start of a six-game winning streak away from Canberra.
If the Brumbies beat the Sharks, they will set a record for
the longest winning streak on the road in Super Rugby history. ''We
won't be happy unless we win both of them,'' Mowen said.
''The challenge of the Super competition is that you need to
be able to adapt your style to be able to play against Australian, South
African and Kiwi sides. ''This will be the biggest test of our season
so far. The Sharks have been building into the season with wins. The
mentality in this group is clear. We know going up against last year's
finalists at Shark Park on a Saturday afternoon is tough and these next
couple of weeks will be one of the biggest challenges we face this