Welcome, Guest.
Please register or login below:
 
 
Brumbies 2003 Preview
Brumbies 2003 Preview
(Pat proves that someone likes the Brumbies!)
02 Feb 2003

Introduction               

Welcome to my rather long and quite boring preview of the ACT Brumbies 2003 campaign.

 

Hopefully the side can overcome the disappointment of last seasonís loss to the Crusaders and go one better this year. They play 5 matches at home this season, so wins on the road and bonus points at home will determine where they finish after the 12 rounds.

 

Nucifora and his squad have been training since early October and hopefully the Brumbies will hit the ground running in 2003.

 

The squad this year has a number of new players, many from the U21 ranks so a bright future lays ahead for the one-time champions. The squad appears slightly stronger than last years however a few experienced campaigners have left in Frier, Bond and Peter Ryan.

 

Nucifora enters his second year of coaching and will be joined for the first time by Australian U21 coach Anthony Eddy who will become the new rugby coordinator and Laurie Fisher coach of the premiership winning Canberra Vikings. So hope to see George holding the championship over his head in late May!

 

Draw

 

Round 1            vs. Reds                     Ballymore

Round 2            vs. Sharks                  Durban

Round 3            vs. Cats                      Johannesburg

Round 4            vs. Stormers              Canberra

Round 5            vs. Bulls                      Canberra

Round 6            vs. Blues                     Auckland

Round 7            vs.Chiefs                    Canberra

Round 8            Bye

Round 9            vs. Waratahs              Canberra

Round 10          vs. Highlanders          Dunedin

Round 11          vs. Hurricanes            Wellington

Round 12            vs. Crusaders           Canberra

 

Brumbies Squad 2003

 

Player

Age

Position

Other Position

 

 

 

 

Joe Roff

27

Fullback

Wing

Mark Gerrard

20

Fullback

OC/ Wing

Mark Bartholomeusz

25

Winger

Fullback/IC

Ben Martin

20

Winger

Fullback

Damien McInally

27

Winger

Fullback

Willie Gorden

23

Winger

 

Andrew Walker

29

Winger

Fullback

Stirling Mortlock

25

Outside Centre

Fullback/Wing/IC

Joel Wilson

26

Outside Centre

Winger/IC

James Holbeck

29

Inside Centre

Outside Centre

Clyde Rathbone

21

Inside Centre

Outside Centre

Pat Howard

29

Inside Centre

Fly-Half

Steve Larkham

28

Fly-Half

Fullback

Matt Giteau

20

Fly-Half

Halfback/IC

Travis Hall

30

Halfback

 

George Gregan

29

Halfback

 

Matt Henjak

21

Halfback

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Fava

26

No 8

BF/OF

Radike Samo

26

No 8

BF/Lock

Owen Finnegan

30

Blindside Flanker

Lock

Tamaiti Horua

21

Blindside Flanker

No 8

Tim Aistrope

22

Openside Flanker

 

George Smith

22

Openside Flanker

 

David Pusey

23

Lock

BF/No 8

Mark Chisholm

21

Lock

Blindside Flanker

Daniel Vickerman

23

Lock

 

Justin Harrison

28

Lock

 

David Giffin

29

Lock

 

Ben Darwin

26

Tighthead Prop

Loosehead Prop

Matt Weaver

30

Tighthead Prop

 

David Fitter

23

Tighthead Prop

 

Angus Scott

24

Loosehead Prop

Tighthead Prop

Nic Henderson

21

Loosehead Prop

 

Ben Coutts

23

Loosehead Prop

 

Bill Young

28

Loosehead Prop

 

Jeremy Paul

25

Hooker

 

David Palavi

24

Hooker

Openside Flanker

Digby Beaumont

22

Hooker

 

 

Arrivals

Mark Gerrard (Waratahs, AU21), Ben Martin (Syd Uni), Matt Giteau (Can. Vikings, AU21), Joe Roff (Biarritz), Clyde Rathbone (South African U21, Sharks), Mark Chisholm (Reds, AU21), Nic Henderson (Can. Vikings, AU21), David Palavi (Can. Vikings), Digby Beaumont (Syd Uni)

 

Departures

Greame Bond (Europe), Peter Ryan (Europe), Adam Ferrier (Waratahs), Tim Atkinson (reds), Julian Huxley (reds, dammit!),Scott Barton (reds), Todd Ollivier (released),  Josh Staniforth (released), Damien Flynn (God Knows?), Tim McGann (released), Cameron Pither (released, Dammit!), Warren Aiken (released), Tim LeNevez (released), Guy Shephardson (released).

 

Likely Starting Lineup

 

15. Joe Roff                                                  

14. Andrew Walker                                               

13. Stirling Mortlock                                            

12. Pat Howard                                                          

11. Mark Batholomeusz                                             

10. Steve Larkham                                            

9. George Gregan                                                          

8. Scott Fava                                                

7. George Smith                                                 

6. Tamaiti Horua                                                 

5. David Giffin                                                  

4. Justin Harrison                                                        

3. Ben Darwin                                                           

2. Jeremy Paul                                                   

1. Bill Young                                                  

 

16. David Palavi                                                

17. Angus Scott                                                  

18. Daniel Vickerman                                        

19. Radike Samo                                                 

20. Travis Hall                                                     

21. James Holbeck                                 

22. Joel Wilson

 

                       

Forwards

 

Props

 

The Props pick themselves really, Ben Darwin and Bill Young have formed a strong combination over the last few years. The Super 12 will be especially important for Darwin who is looking to secure a run on spot with the Wallabies.

 

God only knows why Nucifora needs 7 props in the fulltime squad. The extra player could have been used in the backrow or out in the backline. Angus Scott with backup the starting props and is capable of a solid match. Throw in the Experienced Matt Weaver and Uniís David Fitter the Brumbies have plenty of depth both now and in the future. Nic Henderson and Ben Coutts also made the squad, Nic is a former Melbourne Storm player and played Australian U21 last year, while Coutts I have not seen anything thing that catches my eye beside missed tackles and poor work in the scrums.

 

Hooker

 

Jeremy Paul slots in at hooker and will be looking to establish himself as one of the leading forwards in Super 12. David Palavi is a flanker turned hooker who has had problems with his throwing, he is not bad but donít expect him to come on unless there is an injury to Paul. Digby Beaumont is from Sydney Uni who came 2nd in the Sydney competition. I havenít seen enough of him to make a fair judgment.

 

Locks

 

The Brumbies strength. Have 3 Wallabies in Vickerman, Giffin and Harrison. I would personally go with Giffin and Vickerman but I have the feeling that Vickermanís time will come later. He is really the all round player and I wouldnít be surprised to see him in the No 4 at the World Cup. David Pusey is a more than able backup and the Brumbies have signed young Reds lock Mark Chisholm who played a starring role in the Australian U21 and is tipped as a future Wallaby.

 

Backrow

 

George Smith, Nuff Said. Former U21 Tim Aistrope as backup on the open side. The rest of the backrow is interesting as they went for 6 backrowers, however Finnegan is out for the competition and was not replaced, which leaves them with 5. Scott Fava gets the No 8 jumper and is set for an important year. Finneganís spot will either be taken by Big Australian U21 Captain Tamaiti Horua who played a starring role in the Canberra Vikings victory or Radike Samo who is a bruising lock who is looking to move to the backrow this year.

 

God only know why they will start the tournament with only 5 backrowers in the squad. If a few injuries hit I wont be saying a told you so. Itís ridiculous that Cameron Pither the master 7ís player and the man who almost single handily wins games for Southern Districts could not have gotten his contract extended. The other man unlucky to miss out on a contract is Scott Gray who has won the Best & Fairest 2 years running for the Canberra Vikings. I was almost in tears when I read the squad for next year J . Iíd rather have him than any of the other backrower (minus smith) including that lump of poo Finnegan.

 

Backs

 

Halfback

 

George Gregan is of course the captain and starting halfback. I will be a difficult year for Gregan, who came under a barrage of criticism on the end of year tour because of his poor form.

 

The real question is who is going to be the backup Ė itís down to three. The first is the current back-up Travis Hall, who when called on performs well above expectations. Hasnít had much of a chance in recent years and may be his final year before retirement which may push Nucifora to choose either of the other two.  Matt Giteau, the baby boy wallaby was chosen originally in the Brumbies squad as a Fly-Half, however will be close to being the backup half with his utility ability. The final player to choose from is Matt Henjak, who is my choice. He is the current Australian U21 Halfback and I believe is a future wallaby captain. Henjak has won the man of the match in the last 2 grand finals and is rated by Grant Batty as the 2nd best halfback in the country. Quick, with a great short kicking game and a long pass, watch for him in 2003.

 

Fly-Half

 

Steve Larkham is the Fly-Half with the versatile Matt Giteau as his backup. The concern is behind Giteau the only other option is moving Centre Pat Howard into the pivot role. Unfortunate Julian Huxley was signed by the Qld Reds in the hope of securing a spot in the starting side even though Elton Flatley and Chris Latham will be there for at least the next couple of years. The Brumbies should have signed Brock James the current U21 fly-half. Shame talent like that goes to waste in club football.

 

Centre

 

Personally Iíd rather see former Wallaby James Holbeck in the No 12 jersey but I think that Pat Howardís influence on the coaching staff in the backline will give him the jumper. He is the most overrated player in the whole side. Iím not gonna crap on about how much I donít like him cause I just bore you. Clyde Rathbone was signed from the Sharks in South Africa but donít expect to see too much of him this year but will figure in the ĎBí side who went through undefeated last year.

 

Mortlock is of course the outside centre. Is value to the side cannot be measured. He almost single-handily won games last year through his brilliant step and powerful running. I think he lacks about half a yard in pace but he more than makes up for it by breaking the first tackle almost every time he gets in ball in his hands. Joel Wilson will be waiting in the wings if Mortlock is injured and despite limited chances in Super 12 so far has showed he can more than handle himself. May find himself on the bench or will be the captain of the Brumby Runners.

 

Wingers

Try scoring machines Mark Bartholomeusz and Andrew Walker will find themselves on the wings for the team that was runner up last season. Damien McInally will be looking to have an injury free season and will be waiting for a chance if either slips up. Ben Martin and Willie Gorden will only get a chance if injuries occur.

 

Fullback

 

Joe Roff will be looking to continue on with where he left off in 2001 and I have a feeling we might see the best from Big Joe as he attempts to regain his Wallaby jumper in a crowded field. Mark Gerrard, the only player to receive a full contract whilst still in school two years ago will wait patiently for his chance is considered one of the most exciting prospects in Australian Rugby.

 

Goal Kicker

 

There are a number of choices here although the sharp shooters in Ben Martin and Matt Giteau are unlikely to make the run on side. Stirling Mortlock was the kicker last year and shot only around the 60% mark, which by super 12 standards is not good enough. Tight games are decided on goal kicking which has been the main reason the Crusaders have won in recent year. I get the feeling that Mortlock will be given the nod again (He says that he has been working on it Ė but he says that every season!) and backups will include Andrew Walker and Roff in the run on side.

 

Off Contract

 

I am pretty sure the following come off contract after the season has ended. Those not mentioned are signed until the end of 2004, accept Matt Henjak who comes off contract in 2005.

 

Pat Howard, Owen Finnegan, James Holbeck, Joel Wilson, Matt Giteau, Travis Hall, Damien McInally, Ben Coutts, David Fitter, Scott Fava.

 

 

Watch Out For

 

Scott Fava Ė Won the award last year for the Best player in the Sydney Competition. Had a slow year to start off but finished the season in the Brumbies starting team, forcing Peter Ryan to the bench. Will push for World Cup selection as he is able to play all three backrow positions.

 

Matt Giteau Ė The little livewire utility is something special. Able to play Halfback, Fly-Half and Inside Centre is a value player the Brumbies will surely call on when injuries hit. Anyone who saw him play in the Brisbane competition will know that last years tour to Europe will not be his last in Wallaby colors.

 

Important Seasons

 

Pat Howard Ė by his own admission had a disappointing super 12 season and was snubbed by national selectors. If he continues with the poor form throughout 2003 he might find himself in the grandstand next year.

 

Tamaiti Horua Ė Is put up or shut up this season for the man they call ĎTí. With Owen Finneganís injury to rule him out of the competition the chance is given to Horua to cement his place in the side. Has been in the Brumbies program for a number of years and was the Captain of the Australian U21ís side. Big and Powerful, but time to strut your stuff Tamaiti.

by

Let us know what you think!

Welcome to the Rugbyheads team Pat!

An interesting preview of the Super 12 team I love to see lose the most. I'd wish them luck in the coming season but I'm not good at lying...

Supposedly this article has been viewed 3883 times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)