Brumbies to name strong pack for Cheetahs

ACT Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher has received a welcome boost after a disappointing fortnight with Wallabies Guy Shepherdson and Al Campbell set to make their returns against the Free State Cheetahs this weekend.

The Brumbies have slipped to the bottom half of the Super 14 ladder and are the last placed Australian side. Their situation is expected to improve over the coming weeks as a number of key players return from injury, reports RugbyHeaven website.

Fisher said it was unlikely he would rush Shepherdson into the run-on team because of his lack of recent scrummaging practice. The 26-year-old injured his hamstring during the captain’s run leadinginto the Queensland Reds match three weeks ago.

“The fact that he’s done nothing rugby wise for three weeks, and he gets out there scrummaging against blokes who are 130kg and working each week and the fact that he hasn’t packed a scrum for three and a half weeks it’s not the ideal prep,” Fisher said.

“They’ll certainly be taking us on physically. They are very big men and I would see taking us on physically is their best way to win the game.

“We’ll just need to see how [Shepherdson] gets through training and how much scrummaging he can do [to see] whether he’s in a position to start in that game.”

Shepherdson made it through a tough training session last Friday and trained with the squad yesterday for the first time since injuring his leg. But the 120kg prop expected to have to work for a starting position.

“The boys have done really well [in the scrum] so I’ll probably have my work cut out for me there to get my spot back in the side,” Shepherdson said.

“But the physicality around the field is an area where we’ve struggled the last couple of weeks particularly on the ball and at the breakdown. I’ve got most of the strength and was able to get through a significant running load on Friday.”

“We always know that the Cheetahs,and most of the South African sides are going to be big and physical and they’re a very confrontational side.

“The Brumbies expect a tougher game from the last-placed Cheetahs than the effort they put in against the competition leaders, the Canterbury Crusaders, in which they lost 55-7.

“We won’t be taking too much notice of their result against the Crusaders, we all know how hard it is to play well against the Crusaders particularly having travelled over from South Africa,” Shepherdson said.

Fisher will recall Huia Edmonds into the starting XV with Saia Faingaa set to spend the next two weeks sidelined with a hamstring strain.

John Ulugia will pull on the Brumbies jersey for the first time this season when he is named amongst the reserves.

Fisher is considering a change at scrumhalf after Friday night’s 33-15 loss – promoting Josh Holmes for Patrick Phibbs. The Brumbies have a bye the following weekend.

Injured backs Stirling Mortlock (shoulder), Gene Fairbanks (neck), Adam Ashley-Cooper (ankle) are all expected to return for the Brumbies for the game against the Waikato Chiefs on April 4 in Canberra.

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