Lachlan McCaffrey says the Brumbies have faith in Dan McKellar’s vision.
Lachlan McCaffrey says the Brumbies have faith in Dan McKellar’s vision.

Brumbies won’t buck McKellar’s stellar style

VETERAN backrower Locky McCaffrey says he'd be surprised if the Brumbies' much-debated new style didn't finally click on Saturday against the Sharks in Canberra.

McCaffrey also fired a shot at refereeing inconsistency on foul play after concussed skipper Sam Carter was ruled out of the clash courtesy of a high shot in the Rebels last game that escaped punishment.

Carter was one of six changes made by Brumbies coach Dan McKellar for the Canberra side's first home game. The big lock and hooker Josh Mann-Rea (hamstring) were forced changes but there was also a major reshuffle in the backline, with Christian Lealiifano moved to No.12, Whanerui Hawera promoted to five-eighth and Kyle Godwin dropped out of the 23.

Andy Muirhead and Lausii Taliaulli will start at fullback and wing, and flanker Tom Cusack and lock Blake Enever both come into the pack.

McKellar hopes the changes will help the Brumbies better execute his new vision of a more expansive brand of footy, which hasn't yet worked for the Canberra men.

It has prompted calls for the Brumbies to revert to their old-school structures but McCaffrey said the players' faith in McKellar's style remained staunch.

 

"I think the way Dan is trying to play is fantastic and it will really bring success to the Brumbies," McCaffrey told the Daily Telegraph.

"But it is a bit of a transition, and in terms of skills, guys haven't executed the way we should have the last 2-3 weeks.

"We are so close to going from two tries a game and losing, to scoring five or six tries and comfortably winning.

Helpless Brumbies look on after Reece Hodge crashes over.
Helpless Brumbies look on after Reece Hodge crashes over.

"They're small margins and it might not look that way to supporters out there. But we review a game from the weekend three or four times and the amount of opportunities we are almost taking, it's scary. The shape will work, it will be brilliant.

"The last thing you want to do when you are trying to play an expansive, skilful style is to go into your shell and panicking. Training this week has been the best this season, I'd say. The boys have been super sharp."

McCaffrey said the team changes and a welcome week at home after a month on the road had already had a positive effect.

"It's definitely not going to be a rebuilding season. I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen this Saturday after the last few training days to be honest," McCaffrey said.

The Brumbies have been privately angered by two incidents in their loss to the Rebels; Carter getting taken off in the first quarter after a shot on the chin by Lopeti Timani, and Muirhead being taken out in the air by Dane Haylett-Petty.

The first was missed by all the match officials, although Timani was later hit with a feather-like judiciary warning. Haylett-Petty was penalised but not carded after it was determined Henry Speight banged him and altered the Rebel's course.

"I have seen that for the last two years being given a red card," McCaffrey said.

"I know it was accidental from Dane and Dane has no malice in the way he plays; he is a very fair, tough guy. But I have been a bit surprised with some of the rulings and inconsistencies over the first three weeks.

"It was a bit frustrating watching the review again.

"But as players there is no point dwelling on that sort of stuff, we haven't played well enough over the last three weeks full stop and that we will be our focus."